Mercurius, St. (Mercury [Roman god]) (Died 250) In Christian legend, warrior saint who murdered Julian the Apostate. Venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Feast, 25 November.
According to legend, Julian sold his soul to the devil when he renounced Christianity. On the night he was to go to battle against the Persians, St. Basil the Great had a vision of the Virgin Mary seated on a throne and around her a great multitude of angels. She commanded one of them, saying, “Go forthwith, and awaken Mercurius [who had been killed by Julian for being a Christian], who sleepeth in the sepulchre, that he may slay Julian the Apostate, that proud blasphemer against me and my son!”
When St. Basil awoke, he went to the tomb of Mercurius and saw that the body was missing. He returned the next day and found the body back in place, dressed in full armor, with the lance stained with blood. One medieval account says: “For on the day of battle, when the wicked emperor was at the head of his army, an unknown warrior, bareheaded, and of a pale and ghastly countenance, was seen mounted on a white charger, which he spurred forward, and, brandishing his lance, he pierced Julian through the body and then vanished suddenly as he had appeared.”
Julian was then taken to his tent. Taking a handful of the blood that flowed from his wound, he flung it into the air, saying, “Thou hast conquered, Galilean! Thou has conquered!” The devils then came and took his body to hell. This fanciful Christian version of history has no basis in fact. Julian was killed by a javelin flung by an unknown hand.
From the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante