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Julius the Veteran

(d. 304)


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(d. 304),

martyr. A soldier of twenty-seven years' service on seven military campaigns, the inferior of no man in battle and with an unblemished military record, Julius declared at his interrogation by the prefect Maximus that he must be faithful to higher orders. On being asked about his military service, Julius said that he had been in the army and had re-enlisted as a veteran: all this time he worshipped in reverence the God who made heaven and earth, and he served him right up to the present day. Maximus praised him as a wise and serious man, offered him a generous ten-year bonus if only he would sacrifice to the gods, and offered to take the blame himself if Julius would give the impression of acting voluntarily. Julius steadfastly refused all such subterfuges. When asked why he feared a dead man more than living emperors, he answered: ‘It was he who died for our sins to give us eternal life. This same man, Christ, is God and abides for ever and ever. Whoever believes in him will have eternal life; whoever denies him will have eternal punishment.’ Maximus' reply counselled him out of pity to sacrifice and continue to live. ‘To live with you’, said Julius, ‘would be death for me…I have chosen death that I might live with the saints forever.’

On his way to execution at Durostorum in Moesia Inferior (now Silistria in Bulgaria) he was greeted by a man called Isichius, another Christian soldier who was in prison. ‘Take the crown’, he said, ‘which the Lord has promised to give to those who believe in him, and remember me for I too will follow you. Give my warmest greetings to the servant of God, our brother Valentio who has already gone before us to the Lord by his loyal confession of faith.’ When Julius took the blindfold before being beheaded, he said: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, I suffer this for your name. I beg you to receive my spirit together with your holy martyrs.’ The executioner then ended Julius' life by the sword. Feast: 27 May.

Propylaeum, pp. 211–12; A.C.M., pp. 261–5; H. Delehaye, ‘Saints de Thrace et Mésie’, Anal. Boll., xxxi (1912), 259–390; B.L.S., v. 154.

Subjects: Christianity.


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