Saint of the Day – 12 April – Saint Pope Julius I (Died 337) Bishop of Rome from 6 February 337 until his death on 12 April 352. He fought against the Arian Heresy and it is also traditionally believed that he is also the Pope who set 25 December as the date of the Birth of Jesus. Born at Rome, Italy and died on 12 April 352 of natural causes. Also known as – Jules I.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Rome, the birthday of Pope St Julius, who combated vigorously for the Catholic Faith against the Arians. After a life of brilliant deeds and great sanctity, he rested in peace.”
Julius was the son of a Roman named Rusticus. He was elected Pope to succeed Pope St Mark on 6 February 337.
Julius was soon involved in the Arian controversy when Eusebius of Nicomedia opposed the return of Athanasius to the See of Alexandria in 338. Eusebius and his followers elected George, whereupon the Arians elected Pistus.
On his second banishment from Alexandria, St Athanasius came to Rome, and was recognised as the rightful Bishop by the Synod presided over by Julius in c340. In a letter to the Eusebian Bishops, Julius declared that Athanasius was the rightful Bishop of Alexandria and reinstated him. The matter was not finally settled until the Council of Sardica (Sofia), summoned by Emperors Constans and Constantius in 342 or 343, declared Julius’ action correct and that any deposed Bishop had the right of appeal to the Pope in Rome.
The Fathers of the Council of Sardica sent Pope Julius I the letter Quod semper credidimus, whose beginning we transcribe:
“The Bishops gathered in the City of Sardica, to our most beloved Brother Julius, Bishop of Rome.
We have always believed and professed that which we have now experienced and heard. What the Blessed Paul, Doctor of Nations, said about himself is true; to wit that since Christ the Lord dwelt in him, there can be no doubt that the Spirit spoke through his breath and resounded in his mouth. …
You also, beloved Brother, although separated from us in body, have been present with us, united in spirit and will. The reason for your absence was both honourable and compelling so that the schismatic wolves might not steal, nor treacherously waylay, any of the flock with their snares, or the heretical dogs, rabid with fury, disturb it with their mad barking, or, indeed that serpent spew forth the venom of his diabolical blasphemies. This certainly seems to be the best and most fitting course – that the Priests of the Lord, from each and every Province report everything to their Head that is, to the See of the Apostle Peter.”
Julius also built several Basilicas and Churches in Rome before his death on 12 April 337.