Ordinary Time: February 16th
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: St. Juliana (Hist); St. Onesimus (Hist)
Historically today is the feast of St. Juliana, a Christian virgin of Cumae, Italy, martyred for the faith when she refused to marry a Roman prefect. She suffered terrible ordeals and was finally beheaded. One tradition reports that Juliana actually suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia and that her relics were transferred to Cumae. It is also the feast of St. Onesimus martyr and former slave. He is mentioned in St. Paul's Letter to Philemon as the slave of Philemon in Colossae, Phrygia, who ran away.
St. Juliana suffered martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. Both the Latin and Greek Churches mention a holy martyr Juliana in their lists of saints. The oldest historical notice of her is found in the "Martryologium Hieronymianum" for 16 February, the place of birth being given as Cumae in Campania (In Campania Cumbas, natale Julianae). It is true that the notice is contained only in the one chief manuscript of the above-named martyrology (the Codex Epternacensis), but that this notice is certainly authentic is clear from a letter of St. Gregory the Great, which testifies to the special veneration of St. Juliana in the neighbourhood of Naples. A pious matron named Januaria built a church on one of her estates, for the consecration of which she desired relics (sanctuaria, that is to say, objects which had been brought into contact with the graves) of Sts. Severinus and Juliana. Gregory wrote to Fortunatus, Bishop of Naples, telling him to accede to the wishes of Januaria ("Gregorii Magni epist.", lib. IX, ep. xxxv, in Migne P.L., LXXXVII, 1015).
St. Onesimus was a slave to Philemon, an influential man who had been converted by St. Paul. Onesimus offended Philemon and fled in order to escape any sort of retribution. He then met St. Paul while Paul was in a Roman prison. Shortly after, Onesimus was baptized.
The station for today is on Mt. Coelius in the basilica which the Christian Senator Pammachius built over the home of the martyrs Sts. John and Paul and which is dedicated to them. Near the church was a hospice where Pammachius dispensed his fortune in charity to the poor.