07 Apr Saint Juliana of Mt. Cornillon, Virgin
Today is the feast day of Saint Juliana of Mt. Cornillon. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Juliana of Mt. Cornillon (aka of Liege) was born near Liege, Belgium in 1193.
Orphaned at the age of five, Juliana, together with her sister Agnes, was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns at the convent and leprosarium of Mont-Cornillon.
She was taught mainly by a sister called “Sapienza” [wisdom], who was in charge of her spiritual development to the time Juliana received the religious habit and thus became an Augustinian nun.
She became so learned that she could read the words of the Church Fathers, of St Augustine and St Bernard in particular, in Latin. In addition to a keen intelligence, Juliana showed a special propensity for contemplation from the outset. She had a profound sense of Christ’s presence, which she experienced by living the Sacrament of the Eucharist especially intensely and by pausing frequently to meditate upon Jesus’ words: “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).
When Juliana was 16 she had her first vision which recurred subsequently several times during her Eucharistic adoration. Her vision presented the moon in its full splendour, 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 Juliana was asked to plead effectively: 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.
Juliana, who in the meantime had become Prioress of the convent, kept this revelation that had filled her heart with joy a secret for about 20 years. She then confided it to two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who lived as a hermit, and Isabella, who had joined her at the Monastery of Mont-Cornillon. The three women established a sort of “spiritual alliance” for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament.
In 1230 she was chosen as Superior of her community, she was accused of being a visionary, and she became the object of harsh persecution by a man who had secured his position as overlord of the community by intrigues and bribery. He aroused the neighboring populations against her, and she was obliged to leave the region. Later she was vindicated in the courts through the influence of the Bishop of Liege; her persecutor was deposed, and she was restored to her position in the community.
In 1246 the same bishop ordered that the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament be celebrated every year on the Thursday after the octave of the Trinity. Nonetheless, after the death of the worthy bishop, the furious persecutor was reinstated in 1247 and succeeded once more in driving out the Saint.
Of her own free will, therefore, Juliana left the Convent of Mont-Cornillon with several companions. For 10 years — from 1248 to 1258 — she stayed as a guest at various monasteries of Cistercian sisters.
She edified all with her humility, she had no words of criticism or reproach for her adversaries and continued zealously to spread Eucharistic worship.
She died at Fosses-La-Ville, Belgium, in 1258. In the cell where she lay the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to her biographer’s account, Juliana died contemplating with a last effusion to love Jesus in the Eucharist whom she had always loved, honoured and adored. Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes was also won over to the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Christi during his ministry as Archdeacon in Lièges. It was he who, having become Pope with the name of Urban iv in 1264, instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast of precept for the universal Church.
It was Pope Urban IV, formerly archdeacon at Liege, who in 1264, formally instituted this feast day for the entire Church; it was he also who had commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to prepare the magnificent text of the Office and Mass. The Pope wrote to the friend and associate of Saint Juliana, a Sister-recluse who had continued her efforts to obtain the request of the Lord: May this day bring to all Christians the joy of a new feast and be celebrated with great joy, as We recommend fully in the Apostolic Letter We are sending to the entire world. In 1312 the Council of Vienna confirmed the papal bull, and from that time on, the feast day became general.
Image: Sainte Julienne du Mont-Cornillon (Juliana of Liège) and the institution of the feast of the Holy Sacrament, 1690 (Church of St-Martin, Liège), artist: Englebert Fisen (4)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff