Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint of the Week: St. Juliana of
During these summer months of July and August, these Pastor’s Columns will feature a Saint of the Week each week. During our diocesan Year of the Eucharist, the Diocese will feature and celebrate a Saint of the Month all throughout this Year, a Saint who in a particular way is renowned for his or her devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. And so, each of these next several weeks in July and August, we will introduce some of these “Eucharistic Saints,” and by the inspiration of their holy example and the help of their constant prayers, may it be that we, too, will grow in our own love for and devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Our first Saint of the Week for the summer is considerably lesser-known that many saints: Saint Juliana of Liège. Even though she is little known, the Church is deeply indebted to her, and not only because of the holiness of her life but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important solemn liturgies of the Church year: Corpus Christi.
Saint Juliana was born near Liège, in Belgium, around the year 1190. It is important to emphasize this location because at that time the Diocese of Liège was, as it were, a true “Eucharistic Upper Room.” Before her time, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and, again in Liège, there were groups of women generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent Holy Communion. Guided by exemplary priests, these women lived together and devoted themselves to prayer and charitable works.
Saint Juliana became so learnéd that she could read, in Latin, the words of the Church Fathers (Saint Augustine and Saint Bernard in particular). In addition to a keen intelligence, she showed a special propensity for contemplation even from her youth. She had a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced by living the Sacrament of the Eucharist especially intensely and by pausing frequently to meditate upon the words of Jesus: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
When she was sixteen, she had her first vision, which recurred subsequently several times during her Eucharistic adoration. Her vision presented the moon in its full splendor, crossed diametrically by a dark stripe.
The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on Earth, the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast for whose institution she was asked to plead: namely, a feast in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to increase in faith, to advance in the practice of the virtues, and to make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.
At first, she kept this revelation quietly in her heart, but with great joy. In time, however, she confided at last in two other known adorers of the Eucharist as well as a priest of the diocese.
What happened to her occurs frequently in the lives of saints: to have confirmation that an inspiration truly does come from God, it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer to wait patiently, to seek friendship and exchanges with other good souls, and to submit all things to the judgment of the Church. And so it was that after some twenty years of this spiritual preparation, it was in fact the bishop of Liège who, after initial hesitation, accepted the proposal of Saint Juliana and her companions and so introduced the Solemnity of Corpus Christiin his diocese. Later on, other bishops followed his example and so instituted this feast in the territories entrusted to their pastoral care. She faced opposition and hardship, as do so many of the saints, and at last, in 1258, she died at Fosses-La-Ville, in Belgium. In the cell where she lay dying, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to her biographer’s account, she died contemplating with a last effusion to love Jesus in the Eucharist whom she had always loved, honored, and adored. Inspired by her holy example, a priest named Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes was won over to the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Christiduring his ministry as Archdeacon in Liège. It was he who, having become Pope Urban IV in 1264, instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi to be celebrated on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast of precept for the universal Church. Today, Corpus Christi, is celebrated on the second Sunday after Pentecost.
Saint Juliana of Liège…pray for us.
~ Fr. Lewis
on Monday, July 6 at 11:10AM