Martyrs of the First Ages – Saint Julitta, and Saint Quiricus, Her Son, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

Saint Julitta was a noble lady of the city of Iconium, in Lycaonia. During the reign of the Emperors Dioclesian and Maximian, a most cruel tyrant called Domitian was governor of the province. While the persecution was raging most violently, Saint Julitta took her infant son Cyr, only three years old, and accompanied by two female servants, fled for safety to Seleucia, in Isauria; where, however, she found Alexander, the Proconsul of Cilicia, who exercised a no less barbarous cruelty than Domitian against those Christians who refused to sacrifice to the gods. The saint passed from Seleucia to Tharsis, where Alexander arrived about the same time, Having been recognized, she was arrested and conducted before the judge with the infant Quiricus in her arms. Fire and incense were produced, in order that, renouncing Jesus Christ, she might sacrifice; but the saint answered: “I am a Christian, and therefore am prepared to lose not only my property, but even my life, rather than deny my God.” The judge frequently urged her to abjure her faith; but she who wished to compensate her temporal loss by the acquisition of eternal gains uniformly replied: “I am a Christian: I cannot deny Jesus Christ.”

Alexander, infuriated by her constancy, ordered that the child should be torn from her embrace, and that she should be cruelly scourged; but the holy lady under this torture fervently and continually repeated: “I am a Christian: I cannot sacrifice to your gods.” Quiricus, meanwhile, was beholding the agonies of his mother, and struggled to return to her embrace; but Alexander, to quiet him, placed him on his knee, and endeavored to kiss him. The child, however, kept his eyes fixed continually upon his parent, and by plunging and kicking, tried to free himself from the tyrant, crying out at the same time: “I also am a Christian.” The inhuman wretch dashed the child from him, and the agonizing mother, seeing the steps of the throne bespattered with the blood and brains of her infant, exclaimed: “I give Thee thanks, O my God! for having called my boy be fore me to Thyself.”

The brutal judge, still more infuriated by this excla mation, caused her sides to be torn with iron hooks, and boiling pitch. to be poured upon her feet. Meanwhile one of the bystanders said to her: “Julitta, have pity upon thyself; perish not as thy son has perished; sacrifice to the gods.” “I cannot,” she replied, “sacrifice to devils and to mute statues. I adore the Lord Jesus, and wish to meet my son in heaven;” upon which the judge decreed that she should be beheaded. This sentence filled the saint with joy. Arrived at the place of her last struggle, she cast herself upon her knees, as Father Massini relates in his beautiful work of the lives of the Saints, according to the acts of the martyrs by Ruinart. She then prayed after the following manner: “O God, who hast been pleased to admit my child to a participa tion of the glory of Thy saints, turn Thine eyes of mercy towards me also, and grant me a place among the souls destined to love Thee and adore Thee forever.” Having finished her prayer her head was at once cut off. It is thus that Julitta, with her heart all inflamed with holy love and full of joy, consummated her sacrifice in the year 304.