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St. Juliana of Nicomedia icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Juliana of Nicomedia.
Commemorated December 21.
The Holy Virgin Martyr Juliana, daughter of an illustrious pagan named Africanus, was born in the city of Nicomedia. As a child, she was betrothed to Elusius, one of the emperor's advisors. St. Juliana was endowed with a profound intellect and goodness of soul. She saw through the delusion and deception of the pagan faith, and secretly accepted holy baptism.
When the time of her wedding approached, Juliana refused to be married. Her father urged her not to break her engagement, but when she refused to obey him, he began to beat her viciously. Africanus then handed his daughter over to the Governor, who happened to be Elusius, Juliana's former fiancé. Elusius fervently asked Juliana to marry him, promising not to require her to abandon her faith.
St. Juliana refused and said that she rather be put to death. They beat Juliana harshly, but after each beating she received healing and new strength from God. Her punishment took place before a large number of people. Of these, 500 men and 150 women came to confess Christ after witnessing the steadfastness and courage of the holy virgin miraculously healed from her wounds. They were all beheaded, and were baptized in their own blood.
Convinced of the futility of attempting to separate the holy virgin from her heavenly Bridegroom, Eleusius sentenced Juliana to death. She accepted the sentence with joy and glorified the Lord for permitting her to receive a martyr's crown. The holy Martyr Juliana was executed in the year 304.
St. Justin Popovich icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Justin Popovich. Copy of a contemporary icon
Commemorated June 1.
Saint Justin was born on the Feast of the Annunciation 1894, in Vranje, South Serbia, to a family whose seven previous generations had been headed by priests (Popovich means "family or son of a priest" in Serbian). He began reading the scriptures at a young age, and as an adult carried a New Testament with him, reading three chapters every day. He studied at the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade while St Nikolai Velimirovich (March 18) was on the faculty. In 1914, Blagoje (as he was called before his tonsure) completed the nine-year seminary program. He desired to become a monk, but postponed entry into the monastic ranks due to the outbreak of war and the poor health of his parents. He spent the war caring for his parents and serving as a student nurse.
In 1915 he was tonsured a monk under the name Justin, after St Justin the Philosopher. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Petrograd to study at the seminary; there he acquired a deep, first-hand knowledge of the Russian ascetical tradition and a lifelong love of Russian spirituality, especially that of the common people.
He then attended Oxford University from 1916 to 1919, writing a doctoral dissertation which was rejected. After a brief return to Belgrade, he entered the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Athens. As in Russia, he used his time there not merely to study but to drink in the Orthodox spirituality of the Greek people.
He was ordained to the diaconate while in Greece, then to the priesthood after returning to Belgrade in 1922. He wept 'as a newborn babe' throughout his ordination service. One of his first labors as a priest was to translate the Divine Liturgy into modern Serbian. During this period he came to know Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (later first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad) and St John Maximovich, both of whom were living in Serbia as exiles from the Russian Revolution.
Father Justin's preaching, writing and spiritual counsel became known throughout his country. In 1931 he was sent to Czechoslovakia to help in reorganizing the Church there (then under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church), which was greatly tried and weakened by Uniatism. Realizing the people's crying need a clear exposition of the Faith in their own language, he began in 1932 his three-volume Dogmas of the Orthodox Church. The first volume was so well-received that Fr Justin was made Professor of Dogmatics at the Seminary of St Sava, where he remained, completing the Dogmas and several other books, until the end of World War II. The new atheistic Communist regime then banned him from the university system, and Fr Justin lived from that time on in various Serbian monasteries.
In 1948 he entered Chelije Monastery, where he remained until his repose in 1979. He became Archimandrite and spiritual head of the Monastery. It was during this period that he emerged as a great light of Orthodoxy: pious believers from all parts of Yugoslavia, from Greece, and from all over the world traveled to Chelije to hear the holy Justin's preaching and seek his counsel.
Saint Justin reposed in peace in 1979 at the age of 85, on the Feast of the Annunciation — the date of his birth (March 25). Since his repose, many miracles have been witnessed at his grave: healings, flashes of unearthly light from his tomb, and conversions of unbelievers by his prayers. His many writings are increasingly recognized as a fount of pure Orthodox teaching in the midst of our dark time.
St.Ia of Cornwall icon
Orthodox icon Saint Ia of Cornwall. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated February 3..
St. Ia or Hya was an Irish virgin of noble birth, who introduced Christianity to this area in the fifth century. She was among the followers of St. Barricius, who was a disciple of St. Patrick.
One day, St. Ia went to the seashore to depart for Cornwall from her native Ireland along with other Sts. Fingar and Piala. Finding that they had gone without her, and fearing that she was too young for such a hazardous journey, she was grief stricken and began to pray.
As she prayed, she noticed a leaf floating on the water and touched it with a rod to see if it would sink. As she looked, the leaf grew bigger and bigger. She realized that God had sent it to her and, trusting Him, she embarked upon the leaf and was carried across the Channel, reaching her destination before the others.
When the King of Cornwall learned that these blessed persons were preaching the Gospel of Christ, he had them put to death by the sword on the same day.
Third Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist icon
Orthodox icon of the 3rd Finding of the Haed of Saint John the Baptist. Icon of 14th cent., Monastery of Megisti Lavra Mount Athos.
Commemorated May 25th.
The Third Discovery of the Venerable Head of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John occurred in about the year 850 (see the account of the First and Second Discoveries on February 24). The head of St John the Forerunner was found in the city of Emesia during a time of unrest at Constantinople connected with the exile of St John Chrysostom (November 13).
It was transferred to Komana during the Saracen raids (about 820-820) and it was hidden in the ground during a period of iconoclastic persecution. When the veneration of icons was restored, Patriarch Ignatius (847-857) saw in a vision the place where the head of St John the Forerunner was hidden. The patriarch communicated this to the emperor, who sent a delegation to Komana.
There the head was found a third time arond the year 850. Afterwards the head was again transferred to Constantinople, and here on May 25 it was placed in a church at the court. Part of the head is on Mt. Athos. The Third Discovery of the Head of John the Baptist is commemorated on May 25.