STS. JULITTA AND QUIRICUS–HEROES OF CHRIST

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Julitta was a noble Roman widow and mother of the three years old Quiricus in Iconium.  When the edicts against the Christians began to be enforced under Diocletian in 304, she felt too exposed due to her social standing and thought to remove herself and her son to the relative obscurity and, hopeful, safety of Selucia only to find that Alexander, the governor there was enforcing the anti-Christian edicts with even greater ferocity.  Along with two maidservants she fled to Tarsus only to arrive at the same time as Alexander.  She was recognized by some of his party and was arrested and imprisoned.  Coming to trial, leading her son by the hand, she was put to the test before the governor.  She was of a noble lineage and had great wealth in Iconium but when asked her name, position and country, she would only answer that she was a Christian.  She was sentenced to be scourged and racked.

Quiricus was a beautiful child and the governor sought to win him by treats and endearments but he only had eyes for his mother.  As she would cry out “I am a Christian” when each blow was struck, so the child would mimic her cry; “I am a Christian!” and struggle to leave Alexander’s lap and get to his mother.  Finally in trying to free himself, he kicked the governor and scratched his face with his little nails.  Enraged, Alexander grabbed him by the foot and dashed his head against the stairs of the tribune, killing him instantly.

Rather than being distressed, Julitta gave thanks that her son was granted the crown of martyrdom.  In his rage, Alexander ordered her to  be torn with hooks and beheaded.  Their bodies were thrown into the town midden with other malefactors.  Her two faithful servants gathered them up and gave them burial in a field near the city.  When Constantine brought peace to the Church, one of the maids brought their story to him and a shrine was erected over their grave.  The were greatly venerated in Antioch and relics of Quiricus were brought from there to France by the bishop St. Amator of Auxerre,where he is known as St. Cyr.

They were a frequent subject of icons and their feast is held on July 15th in the East, the day of their trials.  In the West they are venerated on June 16th.

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