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Juliana of Lazarevo

Our righteous mother among the saints Juliana of Lazarevo or Juliana of Murom, Juliana Lazarevskaya, Juliana the Merciful (1530 – January 10, 1604) was a pious Russian woman who married and had children, living a life of asceticism without being a monastic. She is an ancestor of Matushka Juliana Schmemann, wife of Protopresbyter Dr. Alexander Schmemann. The Church commemorates St. Juliana on January 2. She is considered a patron saint of the kitchen and the home, and is remembered in particular for tirelessly serving the poor.


St. Juliana was the daughter of Justin and Stefanida Nedyurev, born in the 1530s. Her father was a steward at the court of Ivan the Terrible. Her mother died when St. Juliana was six, and she went to live with her grandmother until she, too, died six years later, and then St. Juliana went to live with her aunt. She worked to make clothes for the use of the poor.

She married George Ossorgin (or Oso­r'in), a rich merchant of Murom, son of Basil and Eudocia Ossorgin, and continued to labor to assist orphans, widows, and the sick. She was known to all for her meekness and kindness. Despite having married into a wealthy family, she served herself and was kind to the servants, guiding them also in the paths of virtues.

When St. Juliana was attacked by demons during prayer, she was rescued by St. Nicholas in a vision, and claimed him as her protector thereafter.

In the year 1570 there was a famine, and St. Juliana took food meant for herself and distributed it to the poor in secret. Her mother-in-law asked her why she would take extra food during a time of famine, and St. Juliana replied that she was hungry at night, but ashamed to ask for more food. Her mother-in-law gave her even more food, which she also distributed to the poor.

In addition to sewing clothes for the poor, St. Juliana also sewed altar cloths for the church, shrouds for those unable to afford them, and other articles of clothing for sale, which proceeds were then given as alms.

St. Juliana gave birth to ten sons and three daughters, and was sorrowful to lose four sons and two daughters in childhood, and a further two sons later in life, one killed by a servant and the other in army service. She eased her grief in prayer and almsgiving, and gave comfort to her husband, but these losses made her ask him for her to be allowed to withdraw to a convent. George refused, pointing out that the remaining children still needed her to look after them. Nonetheless, they practiced marital fasting for the last ten years of George's life, with St. Juliana increasing in asceticism, service, and prayer. After his death, she increased her struggles with more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

During the reign of Boris Godunov, Russia endured another famine. St. Juliana and her family went to the village of Vochnevo, and though she had little, the beggars coming to her door witnessed that her bread tasted sweeter than anything they had ever tasted.

Eventually, St. Juliana became ill, but even on her deathbed she astounded her carers by continuing to be able to rise to prayer during the night, although she lay ill in bed all day. When she died, others marveled at the halo-like glow around her head and the candle-like-light and sweet fragrance around her body. She reposed on January 10, 1604. When her son George died in 1614, the family tomb was opened to place his body within, and the body of St. Juliana was found incorrupt and streaming myrrh. Many faithful collected the myrrh, and after that was gone, they continued to collect the sand from beneath her coffin. The sand was reported to have effected several miracles of healing.

Some of her relics are in the Church of St. Nicholas on the Embankment, and some were placed in an icon which is at the church dedicated to St. Juliana of Lazarevo in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Troparion (Tone 4)

By your righteous deeds you revealed to the world
An image of the perfect servant of the Lord.
By your fasting, vigil and prayers,
You were inspired in your evangelical life,
Feeding the hungry and caring for the poor,
Nursing the sick and strengthening the weak.
Now you stand at the right hand of the Master, Christ,
O holy Juliana, interceding for our souls.

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