Home  »  Volume VII: July  »  St. Julitta, Martyr

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

July 30

St. Julitta, Martyr

THE EMPEROR Dioclesian, by the first edicts which he issued out against the Christians in 303, declared them infamous, and debarred from all protection of the laws, and from all the privileges of citizens. By thus putting arms into the hands of every one against them, the tyrant hoped to see their very name extinguished; but he was not sensible that this divine religion then triumphs when its professors seem to be overcome by death, and that by it human weakness is made victorious over the power of the world and hell. Of this St. Julitta is an instance. She was a rich lady of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, and was possessed of many farms, cattle, goods, and slaves. A powerful man of the town, by open violence, got possession of a considerable part of her estate; and when he could not otherwise maintain his suit before the pretor, charged her with being a Christian. The judge caused fire and incense to be immediately brought into the court, and commanded her to offer sacrifice to the idols; but she courageously made him this answer: “May my estates perish, or be disposed of to strangers; may I also lose my life, and may this my body be cut in pieces, rather than that by the least impious word I should offend God who made me. If you take from me a little portion of this earth, I shall gain heaven for it.” The judge was extremely exasperated at the undaunted resolution with which she spoke, and without more ado confirmed to the usurper the estates to which he unjustly laid, claim, and condemned the servant of Christ to the flames. Upon hearing this sentence, a kind of heavenly joy and most amiable cheerfulness flushed her countenance, which she could not refrain from expressing by continual thanksgiving to God to her last breath. She exhorted the Christians in the most moving manner to constancy and fervour. The Pagans were amazed to see a lady of her rank, age, and fortune, possessed of all the advantages necessary to please the world, and yet in a condition to enjoy all that is in it most flattering, to contemn all this, and life itself, with such an heroic constancy.  1
  When all things were ready for the execution, Julitta laid herself cheerfully upon the pile, and there expired, being, as it seems, stifled by the smoke; for the flame rising in an arched vault round her body, did not touch it, and the Christians took it up entire. It was afterwards interred in the porch of the principal church in the city; and St. Basil, speaking of this treasure about the year 375, wrote as follows: “It enriches with blessings both the place and those who come to it.” He assures us that “the earth which received the body of this blessed woman sent forth a spring of most pleasant water, whereas all the neighbouring waters are brackish and salt. This water preserves health, and relieves the sick.” Both the Greeks and Latins honour St. Julitta on this day. See St. Basil’s homily on St. Julitta, t. 2, p. 33, hom. 5; also in Ruinart’s collection, p. 515.  2