Saint Juliane of Nikomedia
One of the saints who were to die in the fourth century for possessing Christian beliefs was a girl named Juliane, who was involved in no way with the activist Christian movement but who nevertheless achieved sainthood by a display of raw courage seldom evinced by one of her sex in stubbornly refusing to recant her beliefs. Utter courage is the trademark of the stoic male, but Juliane’s stubborn valor in the face of insurmountable odds is an example of Christian fortitude not exceeded by the most stalwart male. Her contribution to the cause of Christianity in the fourth century, which witnessed some of Christendom’s darkest hours, was equal to that of any of the untold numbers who died for Christ.
Born into wealth, Juliane was bethrothed at an early age, as was the accepted custom of the day. She was scarcely nine years old when she was promised to become the wife of the prefect of the province, who was more than willing to wait nine years for the girl who as a child was blessed with the rare combination of great intellect and extreme beauty. When she finally attained the age of eighteen she was a proficient scholar and a creature of delicate beauty. Despite her parents’ paganism, she had accepted Christ as her Savior long before reaching a marriageable age and had been baptized by a monk who had introduced her to Christianity through the writings of St. Paul, the apostle for whom she had the most abiding respect.
Deploring his paganism, Juliane nevertheless loved her father and respected his wishes, not for one moment objecting to the pending marriage about which she had known for many years. She did not depart from the customary selection of a mate by the father, but she did object strenuously to becoming the bride of the prefect Eleusios, solely on the grounds that he was a pagan.
Eleusios was at first amused that his intended insisted on his becoming a Christian as a condition of marriage. Ultimatums were not given by prospective brides, let alone to a prefect of the province. Not wishing to lose this prize, Eleusios joined the girl’s father in an all-out effort to bring her back from the Christian fold, but no amount of pleading or cajolery could move her from her avowal as a follower of Jesus. Soon the enticement and frustrated pleading gave way to resentment and anger.
The father, disgraced by his daughter’s refusal to honor his commitment, turned her over to the prefect and walked away in disgust.
Eleusios, now master of the girl’s fate, used every kind of guile and cunning to get the lovely Juliane to renounce Christ. This she stubbornly refused to do no matter what was offered by the prefect. At last losing his composure completely, the wrathful Eleusios ordered the recalcitrant girl to be tossed into a dungeon, in which she was put to unspeakable indignities to break her spirit. The will which they sought to shatter showed not the slightest weakness. It became a cruel game of cat and mouse.
Juliane was put to torture with fiendish devices. When all the prefect’s tortures proved to no avail, her strong commitment to the Lord won over those who were trying by any means to wrest her from Jesus. It was evident that the Lord was with her when hot irons intended to brand her could not even produce a blemish.
Eleusios ordered the deaths of those who had openly confessed Christ and then had Juliane beheaded on December 21, 309. Her body was claimed by a pious widow whom none dared challenge and she was buried in a chapel on the outskirts of Nikomedia. It can be noted that Eleusios a short time later survived a shipwreck, but after making shore was consumed by wild beasts.