May 23: The feast of *Saint Julia of Carthage*
Today, May 23, we celebrate the feast of *Saint Julia of Carthage* (died 620), virgin and
martyr of the Church.
Julia was born of noble aristocratic parents in Carthage and often the city was subject to numerous barbarian attacks. During one attack by the Vandals, Julia was taken from her family, and sold into slavery.
She was purchased by a pagan merchant named Eusebius, and taken with him to his home in Syria. She was put in charge of distributing small parcels of food and small amounts of water to other slaves.
Julia’s strength of character, and intelligence earned her master’s respect. She accompanied him on business trips, where he took advantage of her skills.
During one trip, the two were shipwrecked, but managed to survive and swim to Corsica. Upon arrival in Corsica, the local governor suggested the pair attend a pagan festival, during
which they would sacrifice to the gods for their salvation. However, Julia, given her love of the Lord, refused to attend the festival.
Eusebius respected her decision, but the local governor, Felix, demanded she participate in the ceremony.
Eusebius explained that she was a Christian. He further added that although he had not been able to make her give up her religion, still was such a good, faithful servant that he
would not know what to do without her.
So, Felix prepared a banquet, and waited until good Eusebius became intoxicated and fell asleep. Finding Julia alone and undefended, the governor tried to make Julia sacrifice to the gods. He promised to have her set free if she would comply, but she refused. Felix was enraged. When she failed to renounce Christ, she was nailed to a cross and thrown into the sea to drown.
The cross with her body drifted to the island of Gorgona where a Benedictine abbey was located. The monks rescued her relics. Accompanying the cross, as holy legend tells us, was a note (written in angelic hand) which carried her name and story.
*St. Julia of Carthage, pray for us.*
Jesus, owing to Your death on the cross and Your resurrection, the faithful have a hope for eternal life that lets them boldly counter life hardships.
Let the example of St. Julia be a motivation for us to stay by You for ever. You who live and reign for ages and ages. Amen.