Feast Day : April 12
Julius was a native of Rome. For unknown reasons, the see of Rome was vacant for four months following the death of Pope St. Marcus in October 336. Julius was elected to the post on February 6, 337. Much of his pontificate was concerned with the situation of St. Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria who for a while was forced into exile and took up residence in Rome. Through Athanasius, the Egyptian monastic life became well known in Rome, and the example of the hermits of the Egyptian deserts became very influential there. Julius supported Athanasius against rivals and eventually helped to return him to Alexandria. His letter on the matter is considered one of the most important pronouncements of the Roman see, asserting as it did the Roman primate’s role in the universal Church. Under Julius, the Roman Christian community grew rapidly. He raised two new basilicas, the titular Church of Julius (now the Santa Maria in Trastevere) and the Basilica Julia (now Church of the Twelve Apostles). He built three churches over catacombs outside the walls of the city as well. During his time, also, catalogs of saints’ feast days came into use. Julius died on April 12, 352, and was buried in the Catacombs of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way. His cultus began to be celebrated soon after his death. Later his relics were translated to Santa Maria in Trastevere.