January 8, 2018

Sts. Julian and Basilissa, Fourth Century Martyrs

Saints Julian and Basilissa

Optional Memorial - January 9th 

Saint Julian and Saint Basilissa, although married, lived, by mutual consent, in perpetual chastity; they sanctified themselves by the most perfect exercises of an ascetic life, and employed their revenues in relieving the poor and the sick. For this purpose they converted their house into a kind of hospital, in which they sometimes entertained a thousand poor people. Basilissa attended the women in separate lodgings from the men; these were taken care of by her husband Julian.

At that time, the imperial governor Marcian had constructed pagan idols in Egypt, many of which [according to popular piety} were destroyed by the prayer of the two saints. Because of their Christian faith, professed Christians were horribly persecuted and killed. Some sources report that Basilissa died a martyr. Others contend that, after enduring seven brutal persecutions, she died in peace. Julian survived her many years and received holy martyrdom, together with Celsus, a youth, Antony, a priest, Anastasius, and Marcianilla, the mother of Celsus.

When the pagan governor, under the threat of bodily harm, ordered St. Julian to sacrifice to the idols, he replied: "I regard the emperor as an authority ordained by God. But I can not obey his orders if they are contrary to the commandments of God." With this, Julian received a sentence of death, and was born to eternity.

Many churches and hospitals in the East, and especially in the West, bear the name of one or other of these martyrs. Four churches at Rome, and three out of five at Paris, which bear the name of St. Julian, were originally dedicated under the name of St. Julian, the Hospitalarian and martyr. (St. Julian, the Hospitalarian should not to be confused with St. Julian the Hospitaller the patron of hospitality.)

In the time of Saint Gregory the Great, the skull of St. Julian was brought out of the East into France, and given to Queen Brunehault; she gave it to the nunnery which she founded at Étampes; a section of it is at present in the monastery of Morigny, near Étampes, and part in the church of the regular canonesses of St. Basilissa at Paris. O infinite, triune God! You strengthened your faithful servants Julian and Basilissa in their confession of faith. Do likewise for us that we may live chastely and not be turned away from faithfulness to your ministry. Amen.

Adapted excerpt from Lives of the Saints, Father Alban Butler, 1894 edition.

No comments :