Sts. Julian and Basilissa
Husband and wife; died at Antioch or, more probably, at Antinoe, in the reign
of Diocletian, early in the fourth century, on 9 January, according to the Roman
Martyrology, or 8 January, according to the Greek Menaea. We have no
historically certain data relating to these two holy personages, and more than
one this Julian of Antinoe has been confounded with Julian of Cilicia. The
confusion is easily explained by the fact that thirty-nine saints of this name
are mentioned in the Roman Martyrology, eight of whom are commemorated in the
one month of January. But little is known of this saint, one we put aside the
exaggerations of his Acts. Forced by his family to marry, he agreed with his
spouse, Basilissa, that they should both preserve their virginity, and further
encouraged her to found a convent for women, of which she became the superior.
while he himself gathered a large number of monks and undertook their direction.
Basilissa died a very holy death, but martyrdom was reserved for Julian. During
the persecution of Diocletian he was arrested, tortured, and put to death at
Antioch, in Syria, by the order of the governor, Martian, according to the
Latins, at Antinoe, in Egypt, according to the Greeks, which seems more probable.
Unfortunately, the Acts of this martyr belong to those pious romances so much
appreciated in early times, whose authors, unearned only for the edification of
their readers, drowned the few known facts in a mass of imaginary details. Like
many similar lives of saints, it offers miracles, prodigies, and improbable
utterances, that lack the least historical value. In any ease these two saints
must have enjoyed a great reputation in antiquity, and their veneration was well
established before the eighth century. In the
Martyrologium Hieronymianum they
are mentioned under 6 January; Usuard, Ado, Notker, and others place them under
the ninth, and Rabanus Maurus under the thirteenth of the same month, while
Vandelbert puts them under 13 February, and the Menology of Canisius under 21
June, the day to which the Greek Menaea assign St. Julian of Caesarea. There
used to exist at Constantinople a church under the invocation of these saints,
the dedication of which is inscribed in the Greek Calendar under 5 July.
Acta SS. Bolland. Jan.. I (1643), 570-75; MARCHINI, I SS. Giuliano e Basilissa sposi, vergini e martiri, protettori dei conjugati (Genoa, 1873); TILLEMONT, Memoires pour servir a l'hist. eccl. V (Paris, 1698), 799 sqq.; SURIUS, Vit. Sanct., I (Venice 1581), 61-62.
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