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Julius and Aaron

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Saints Julius and Aaron are British martyrs who martyred during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian, 304. They are commemorated July 1.

Life

In his De Excidio Britanniae, Gildas the Wise writes: "God ... in the ... time of persecution ... lest Britain should be completely enveloped in the thick darkness of black night, kindled for us bright lamps of holy martyrs…..I speak of Saint Alban of Verulamium, Aaron and Julius, citizens of Caerleon, and the rest of both sexes in different places, who stood firm with lofty nobleness of mind in Christ's battle."[1][2]

There is doubt that Diocletian's persecutions were ever carried out in Britain [3], but churches were nevertheless dedicated to these two saints. Giraldus Cambrensis confirms that two churches at Caerleon were dedicated to Aaron and Julius. Bede repeats Gildas' words, but mistranslated Gildas' Urbs Legionum as Chester rather than Caerleon.

They were martyred at Caerleon and the approximate sites of their martyrdom are well known locally. Many churches in Caerleon and the wider Newport area are dedicated to them, as well as the suburb of St. Julian's, Newport.


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Notes

  1. "De Excidio Britannie", Gildas the Wise
  2. EBK: SS. Aaron & Julius
  3. David Hugh Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 228.

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