Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Julian, Anchoret
THIS saint was carried away captive from some western country when he was very young, and sold for a slave in Syria. For some years he much aggravated the weight of his chains by his impatience under them; till having the happiness to receive the light of faith he found them exceedingly lightened by the comfort which religion afforded him. A right use of his afflictions from that moment contributed much to the sanctification of his soul. Not long after he recovered his liberty by the death of his master, and immediately in the fervour of his devotion dedicated himself to the service of God in an austere monastery in Mesopotamia. He frequently resorted to the great St. Ephrem for advice and instructions in the exercises of virtue; and that holy man went often to see him, that he might edify himself by his saintly conversation. This learned doctor of the Syriac church tells us, that he could not forbear always admiring the sublime sentiments and spiritual lights with which God favoured a man who appeared in the eyes of the world ignorant and a barbarian. Julian was of a robust body, inured to labour, but he weakened and emaciated it by great austerities. He worked with his hands, making sails for ships; and wept almost continually at the consideration of his past sins, and of the divine judgments. St. Ephrem tells us that he often admired to find that in the copies of the Holy Bible after Julian had used them some days, several words were effaced, and others rendered scarcely legible, though the manuscripts were entire and fair before; and that the holy man candidly confessed to him when he one day asked him the reason, that the tears which he shed in reading often blotted out letters and words. Our saint always looked upon himself as a criminal, trembling, and expecting every moment the coming of his judge to call him to an account. It is easy to imagine how remote such a disposition of mind was from being capable of entertaining the very thought of amusements. His extreme humility appeared in his words, dress, and all his actions. He had much to suffer from certain tepid and slothful monks; but regarded himself as happy to meet with so favourable opportunities of redeeming his sins, and of exercising acts of penance, patience, meekness, and charity. Prayer was almost the uninterrupted employment of his heart. He made in his little cell a kind of a sepulchre, where he lived retired for greater solitude whenever his presence was not required at duties of the community. He assisted at the divine office without ever moving his body, keeping his whole attention fixed on God, as if he had been standing before the tribunal of his sovereign judge. St. Ephrem assures us that God honoured him with the gift of miracles. Sozomen writes1 that his life was so austere, that he seemed almost to live without a body. Thus he spent twenty-five years in his monastery, purifying his soul by patience, obedience, and the labours of penance. He passed to a glorious immortality about the year 370. See his life written by his friend the great St. Ephrem, Op. t. 3, p. 254, ed. Vatic.