Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ. Virgin Martyr Juliana of Nicomedia, and with her 50 men and 130 women (304). Repose of St. Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia (1326). St. Juliana, Princess of Vyaz’ma (1406). Repose of Bl. Procopii (Procopius) of Vyatka, Fool-for-Christ (1628). Martyr Themístocles of Myra in Lycia (251).
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 a certain Elusius, one of the emperor’s advisors. Saint 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. Then Africanus handed his daughter over to the Eparch, 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. Saint Juliana refused and said that she’d rather be put to death.
They beat the saint both long and 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.
Saint Juliana is the subject of an Anglo-Saxon poem, believed to have been written by Cynewulf in the eighth century.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the forefeast, tone 4
Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
All-blameless bride and venerable trophy-bearer, You are wedded to the Word of the immortal Father, O glorious Juliana. For having wisely disdained your mortal bridegroom, You strove beyond nature to destroy the serpent, And now you delight in the joys of your Bridegroom!
Kontakion of the saint, tone 1
You were a beautiful virgin, wise Juliana, and as your soul was wounded with divine love, your body was also pierced with the wounds of martyrdom adorning you as a bride of Christ and His martyr. Now as you dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber, you pray for us all.
Kontakion of the forefeast, tone 3
Today the Virgin comes to the cave to give birth to the Eternal Word. Hear the glad tidings and rejoice, O universe! Glorify with the angels and the shepherds the Eternal God, who is willing to appear as a little child!
Hebrews 11:8, 11-16 (Epistle)
- By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
- By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
- Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
- These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
- For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
- And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
- But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Mark 10:23-32 (Gospel)
- Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
- And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!
- It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
- And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
- But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
- Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
- So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,
- who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.
- But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
- Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: