Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine

Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine
(Blessed Julien de St. Augustin)

Feast Day – April 8

The father of Blessed Julian was a French nobleman who, in order to escape from the violent pressure exerted on him by the Calvinists to make him apostatize from the Catholic Faith, fled to Spain leaving all his wealth behind. There Julian was born and reared amid unpretentious circumstances, but in a very Christian manner. The boy was devoted to piety, his greatest pleasure being to serve the priests at the altar.

As a young man Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine accompanied for some time a missionary of the Franciscan Order on his apostolic journeys. The missionary arranged for his admission with the Friars Minor as a lay brother in the convent of Maria of Salzeda. Julian began his convent life with ardent zeal, yes, he practiced such extraordinary acts of mortification that he was considered eccentric; and God almighty permitted, as a means of trial, that he was dismissed from the novitiate. This trial Julian bore with admirable fortitude.

Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine withdrew to a neighboring mountain, where he built a hut in order to live as a hermit. Once a day he came to the gate of the convent from which he had been dismissed, to receive food with the other poor. While waiting for the food to be dispensed, he would instruct the others in the catechism, and when a poor person one day came poorly clad, he took off his own garment and gave it to that person.

On account of such virtues the dismissed novice was again received into the convent, where, after successfully enduring the time of probation, he pronounced his vows. In the zeal that always consumed him, he was impressed with the value of obedience to such a degree that he sometimes said that he would rather die than not obey. He constantly wore iron girdles, and fasted so strenuously that the physicians declared it was a miracle that he could live and work. While on his rounds to gather alms, he edified everyone by his modest and humble demeanor.

Full of zeal for God and the salvation of souls, he brought many a sinner back to the right road by his exhortations, and checked much that was wrong among the people, who esteemed him highly. In a special was he denounced frivolous dances. He often exhorted the young people to keep away from such dangerous amusement, and many followed his warning. The fires that had been built in the open for the night dances, he stamped out with his bare feet.

A true son of St Francis he loved holy poverty and practiced it so rigorously that he did not even wish to have his own cell. The nights he passed in prayer in the church, or he rested a bit in some corner of the friary. During his fervent prayers he was often favored with visions. In spite of this he always remained so humble that he considered himself the greatest sinner, and accepted all acts of contempt as deserved treatment.

Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine closed his holy life in the convent of Alcala on the eighth of April, 1606. At once the people began publicly to venerate him, and Philip III, King of Spain at that time, urged his beatification. The proceedings were, however, often interrupted until the jubilee year of 1825, when Pope Leo XII inscribed him solemnly among the blessed.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM

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