As the story begins, Juliana's father wants to force her to marry a high-ranking city official who is a pagan. Juliana refuses and, when in prison, she is visited by what appears to be an angel, but it is the devil in disguise. Juliana is not fooled, of course, and a fascinating dialogue then ensues between Juliana and the devil. The devil will also appear in disguise again later in the story; the devil is indeed a master of disguises in these stories, as you will see. You will find some archaic and unusual words in the story, although the meaning is almost always clear from context. Some unusual words include:
guerish: to heal
wit: to know
Meanwhile, the date of Juliana's martyrdom, "the fourteenth calends of the month of March," follows the Roman calendar. It means the fourteenth day before the first day (calends) of March, i.e. February 16, which is now her feast day.
[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Women Saints unit. Story source: The Golden Legend edited by F. S. Ellis (1900).
Here followeth the Life of S. Juliana
When her father saw this, anon he did do her to be naked, and made her to be beaten sore, and after delivered her to the provost. And after when the provost beheld her, and saw the great beauty in her, he said to her: My most sweet Juliana, why hast thou brought me in such confusion that I am mocked because thou refusest to take me?
She said: If thou wilt adore my God, I shall assent and agree to take thee, and otherwise shalt thou never be my lord.
To whom the provost said: Fair lady, that may I not do, for the emperor should then smite off my head.
And she said: If thou doubtest so much the emperor, which is mortal, why should not I doubt mine emperor Jesu Christ, which is immortal; do what thou wilt, for thou mayst not deceive me.
Then the provost did do her to be beat most cruelly with rods, and half a day to hang by the hairs of her head, and molten lead to be cast on her head. And when he saw that all this grieved her not, he made her to be bounden in chains, and to be set in prison.
To whom the devil came then in the likeness of an angel, which said to her in this manner: Juliana, I am the angel of God, which hath sent me to thee to warn thee and say that thou make sacrifice to the idols for to escape the torments of evil death.
Then she began to weep, and made to God this prayer: Lord God, suffer not me to be lost, but of thy grace show to me what he is that maketh to me this monition.
The same time came to her a voice that said that she should set hand on him, and that she constrain him to confess what he was, and anon she took him and demanded him, and he said that he was the devil, and that his father had sent him thither for to deceive her.
She demanded him: Who is thy father?
And he answered: Beelzebub, which sendeth us for to do all evil, and maketh us grievously to be beaten when we come vanquished of the christian people. And therefore I am certain I shall have much harm because I may not overcome thee.
She said to him: Of what craft is thy father Beelzebub?
The devil said: He contriveth all evil, and when we come into hell he sendeth us for to tempt the souls of the people.
She demanded: What torments suffereth he that cometh vanquished of a christian creature?
The devil said: We suffer then much grievous torment, and by cause when we be vanquished of a good man we dare not return, and when we be sought and cannot be found, then commandeth our master to other devils that they torment us wheresomever they find us, and therefore we must obey to him as to our father.
And of what craft art thou?
I take solace in the shrewdness of the people; I love homicide, luxury, battle, and make debate and war.
And she demanded him: Goest thou never to do good works and profitable?
The devil answered: Madam, to the end that I answer the truth, to my right great harm and evil am I come hither, for I had well supposed to have deceived thee, and made thee to make sacrifice to the idols and to renounce thy God. When we come to a good christian man and we find him ready to do service to God, we send into him many thoughts vain and evil, and also many evil desires, and turn his thought by this that we set tofore him, and we send errors into his thoughts, and we let him not persevere in his orisons ne in no good works; yet if we see any that will go to the church or in other place for any good, anon we be in their ways, and cast into their hearts divers thoughts and occasions by which they be distorned for to do well. But whosomever may understand our temptations and apperceive them, to the end that he put away from him evil cogitations and thoughts, and will make his prayers, and do his good works, and hear the words of God and the divine service, of him we be cast out, and when they receive the body of Jesu Christ we depart forthwith from them. We set our intent to nothing but to deceive good persons that lead an holy life, and when we see them do good works, we send into them bitter and grievous thoughts for to leave all and do our will.
S. Juliana said: O thou spirit! How art thou so hardy to tempt any christian person?
And the devil answered: How darest thou thus hold me, if it were not thou affiest in Jesu Christ? Right so trust I in my father, which is a malefactor, and I do that pleaseth him; I have pained me to do oft many evils, and sometime I come to mine intent, and accomplish my desire, but at this time I have failed: I would I had not come hither! Alas! how understood my father of this that should not hap. Madam, let me go, and give me leave to go in to some other place, for it is no need that I accuse thee to my father.
At the last she let him go.
On the morn the provost commanded that S. Juliana should be brought tofore him in judgment; and when he saw her so well guerished, and her visage so fair and so shining, then said the provost to her: Juliana, who hath taught thee, and how mayest thou vanquish the torments?
And she said: Hearken to me and I shall say to thee: My Lord Jesu Christ hath taught me to adore the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for I have overcome and vanquished Satan thy father, and all his other devils; for God hath sent his angel for to comfort and to help me. Mechant man, knowest thou not that the torments be made ready for thee everlasting, where thou shalt be tormented perpetually in a perpetual darkness and obscurity.
Anon the provost made to be brought a wheel of iron between two pillars, and four horses to draw it forth, and four knights at one side, and four knights on that other to draw, and four for to draw forth the wheel, so that all the body was tobroken in such wise that the marrow came out of the bones, and the wheel was all bloody.
Then came an angel of God and brake the wheel, and healed the wounds of S. Juliana perfectly. And for this miracle were converted all they that were present. And anon after, for the faith of Jesu Christ were beheaded men and women to the number of one hundred and thirty persons.
After, commanded the provost that she should be put in a great pot full of boiling lead, and when she entered into the said pot, all the lead became cold, so that she felt no harm.
And the provost cursed his gods because they might not punish a maid that so vanquished them. And then he commanded to smite off her head.
And when she was led to be beheaded, the devil appeared to the provost in figure of a young man, and said: Spare not good people, and of her have no mercy, for she hath blamed your gods and done much harm, and me she hath beaten this night past, therefore render to her that she hath deserved.
With these words S. Juliana looked behind her for to wit who said such words of her.
Anon the devil said: Alas! alas! caitiff that I am, I doubt me that yet she will take and bind me, and so he vanished away.
After this, that she had admonished the people to love and serve Jesu Christ she prayed them all to pray for her, and then her head was smitten off.
The provost entered into a ship with thirty-four men for to pass an arm of the sea; anon came a great orage and a tempest, which drowned the provost and all his company in the sea, and the sea threw their bodies to the rivage, and wild beasts came thither and ate them.
Thus this holy virgin S. Juliana suffered martyrdom for our Lord the fourteenth calends of the month of March.
Next: Saint Mary of Egypt
(Juliana and the devil from a 14th-century ms.)