21 June / 4 July
Of a noble senatorial family, he lived in Tarsus in Cilicia and suffered in the reign of Diocletian. Although only eighteen years old when he was taken for trial for the Faith, St Julian was already both educated and resolute in Christian faith and devotion. The imperial governor took him from city to city for a whole year, torturing him all the while and attempting to persuade him to renounce Christ. Julian's mother followed her son at a distance. When the governor seized her and sent her to urge her son to renounce Christ, she spent three days in the prison with him, giving him precisely the opposite advice, teaching him and giving him the strength not to lose heart but to go to his death with courage and gratitude to God. His torturers then sewed Julian into a sack of sand with scorpions and snakes and threw him into the sea, and his mother also died under torture. The waves carried his body onto the shore, and the faithful took it to Alexandria, where they buried it in 290. His relics were later taken to Antioch. St John Chrysostom himself gave an eulogy for the holy martyr Julian: 'A holy voice comes forth from the lips of the martyr, and with this voice is poured out a light brighter than the rays of the sun.' He said further: 'Take whomsoever you will, be he a madman or one possessed, and lead him to the grave of this saint, to the martyr's relics, and you will see the demon immediately jump out and flee as from blazing fire.' It is evident from this speech that many wonders must have been wrought at St Julian's grave. Our Holy Fathers Julius and Julian.
One of the most famous of the Breton saints was Saint Mewan. A relative of Saint Samson of Dol,* (* A Life of St. Samson appeared in OA #40, June 1984) he was born in Gwent of a noble family, and was well-educated, intelligent and serious-minded. When quite young he chose to renounce the world and lead a life of poverty. As a disciple of his kinsman, he travelled with Saint Samson and a small group of monks on a missionary journey to Brittany. After some time in the monastery of Dol which they founded, Samson sent young Mewan to a certain count to beg for assistance in building his basilica. On the way Mewan met a wealthy and pious man, who promised him his own estate as a site for the monastery. This offer was taken up later with Samson's blessing when Mewan desired to lead a more solitary life. The site proved suitable for a monastery except that there was no water. Mewan prayed fervently, and struck his staff into the ground. Immediately a spring of water gushed out. This water healed both sick men and animals, so that soon the fame of it spread abroad, and people flocked to it from distant places. The number of monks increased rapidly as his sanctity became known. Once a count imprisoned and sentenced to death one of his servants for a trifling misdemeanor. St. Mewan begged the count to release him without avail. Through the prayers of St. Mewan, the servant was miraculously released, and fled to the monastery for sanctuary. The infuriated count broke in and seized him, ignoring St. Mewan's warning that as a punishment he would die in three days' time. As the count was returning home, he was seriously injured by a fall from his horse. He repented, confessed and died on the third day. Many miracles, particularly of healing, are recorded in the life of the Saint. After his death his cult gradually spread all over France. His well was famous for its powers of curing a malady popularly called "St. Mewan's evil," namely a malignant mange that eats the flesh down to the bone. In the Middle Ages it was established that between four and five thousand pilgrims came annually for healing. The name M�en (Mewan) is pronounced like the French word for hand, main, so pilgrims used to wear a hand-shaped piece of cloth sewn on their clothes or hat. They were supposed to live on alms throughout their pilgrimage, and give to the poor on their return the money they would have spent on the journey. It is recorded that in the mid-seventeenth century some fifteen thousand pilgrims passed each year through Rennes, where a hospice was built to accommodate them. Even in the late eighteenth century, annual pilgrimages were still being made and numerous healings of skin diseases reported. A charming anecdote is told about Saint Mewan's death. Knowing beforehand the hour of his repose, he called the brethren together in words of love to give them his last instructions. His godson Austol, who had never been parted from him and had always served him humbly, was pierced with grief. "Why, father," he cried, "do you leave me your servant desolate? It had been better that I had been buried by your hands and commended by your holy prayers before your departure." He wept bitterly, and his beloved godfather replied, "Dearest godson, continue with your usual labour, for by God's mercy, in seven days you shall join me in the glory of the heavenly life. The bond of love which unites us is not broken; no, it will be made even stronger." After the Saint's death, Austol continued to serve the brothers as before. On the seventh day, having observed a three-day fast, he went alone to the church, and there peacefully reposed. The brothers, finding him dead, and remembering the love which these two servants of God had for each other, opened Saint Mewan's tomb and discovered that the Saint's body, which diffused a divine fragrance, had moved and was lying on the right of the grave facing the space on the left as if waiting for his disciple. So Austol, who later was also glorified, was buried beside his beloved friend. The bones of the two saints thus declared the love that had always united them. In the year 919 the relics of Saint Mewan and his disciple Saint Austol were moved to Central France to escape the Norsemen, and were brought back in 1074 on January 18, the day on which they are commemorated.