She lived during the reign of Diocletian, the last Roman emperor who engaged in the brutal prosecution of Christians before Rome adopted Christianity as its official faith. He ordered the killing of many thousands of Christians, of whom Saint Juliania was one. Like the other Christian martyrs, she preferred a painful death to the betrayal of her faith. Yet the story of her life is distinct from the lives of the other Christian martyrs by the her intense struggle with the devil who tried to shake her resolve. In icons, she is depicted holding the devil shackled in a chain, suggesting that the struggle was neither quick nor easy.
She lived in the city of Nicomedia in modern-day Turkey. Her father was a high-ranking military officer in the Roman legions hostile to Christians. He had betrothed her to marry a Roman senator named Eleusius. Juliania refused to obey his command, declaring her conversion to Christ and her decision to betroth herself to her Husband in Heaven. Her words infuriated her father, and he beat her severely to make her change her mind. But Juliania was steadfast, and her father handed her over to the Roman prefect, who happened to be Eleusius, her fiancé.
As she was being held captive, the devil visited her regularly in her cell. He appeared as a ray of light, and she could have easily mistaken him for an angel. But Juliania had the gift of an acute mind and incisiveness, enabling her to see through the devil's stratagems. The devil sought to convince her that her father and fiancé were offering her a good thing. She was renouncing a comfortable and well-to-do life in the world. Instead, she was choosing a dangerous illusion and would suffer unnecessary pain. According to tradition, she ultimately waged a physical struggle with the devil, defeated him and shackled him into chains.
Eleusius went to every length to convince her to marry him, promising even to let her keep her faith. Unsuccessful, he ordered her to be tortured with harshness, but Juliania emerged from every torment unharmed. The onlookers – 500 men and 130 women – were impressed by her bravery and converted to Christ. All were beheaded. Finally, the Holy Martyr Juliania met her death, joyful to become a martyr for the Lord.