Today, January 28, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Julian of Cuenca (1127-1208), second bishop of Cuenca, Spain, professor, hermit, priest, preacher, patron saint of Cuenca, Spain and rain.
Saint Julian was born in Burgos, Spain. There, he studied at the cathedral school, followed by the University of Palencia where he earned his doctorate. He was appointed professor of philosophy and theology in 1153, at the age of 26. For the next ten years, not only did he devote himself to teaching, he used his free time to make baskets and other trade goods, donating all he made to the poor of the city. Saint Julian lived on the principal of charity, always doing for others.
After a decade of work, he left Palencia to enter life as a hermit, to spend time in quiet contemplation with his thoughts of God. He found a modest home outside of Burgos, on the banks of the picturesque Arlanzon river. He was eventually ordained, and received minor orders. He continued to live a life of charity, mortification, and solemn contemplation of the Lord.
Following some time, he and his companion, Lesmes, set off as itinerant preachers, traveling throughout Spain, as far as Cordoba and Toledo. There, in Toledo, he was appointed archdeacon. Along with his administrative duties, Saint Julian continued his tradition of basket-making to raise money for the poor. He preached and served as archdeacon of Toledo for five years, before being chosen as the second bishop of Cuenca.
Until his death, Julian continued his preaching, instituting significant reform to the clergy of the area. He spent his free time in charitable work for all members of the city—Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike. One each year Saint Julian retired to the country, where he entered into silent contemplation, generally accompanied by basket making. It is said that on one of these retreats, Jesus appeared to him in the guise of a beggar, thanking him for his lifetime of charitable works.
Saint Julian’s relics lie in the Cathedral of Cuenca, where he is honored as patron saint and protector of the city.
Thank You Lord for the many graces and blessings you have placed in my life.
I offer You my heart-felt gratitude for Your countless gifts to me each day.
In turn, dear Lord, help me to be aware of the needs of my least sisters and brothers, and to respond to those those who are poor and less fortunate with generous expressions of charity, kindness and caring.
On that day Lord, when I finally stand before You to give an account of my life, I pray I will hear you say, “Come O good and faithful servant to share your Father’s joy, for when you saw me hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, ill and imprisoned, you offered your gifts in charity and you lovingly did it for me”.