Saint Juliana (b. Giuliana Falconieri) was one of the two glories of the noble Falconieri Family, the other being her uncle, Alexis. Her parents, Chiarissimo and Riguardata, were devout people of great wealth who had built at their own expense the magnificent church of the Annunziata in Florence.
They were childless and already well advanced in years when, in 1270, Giuliana was born--the answer to prayer. After the death of her father when she was still a child, her uncle Alexis shared with Riguardata the direction of her upbringing.
She never cared for the amusements and occupations which interested other girls, but loved to spend her time in prayer in church. Sometimes her mother would remonstrate her, reminding her that unless she applied herself to the spinning wheel and the needle, she would never find a husband. This was no threat to the fifteen-year old Giuliana who had already made her decision never to marry but rather to consecrate herself to God and to renounce the world. Her uncle Alexis instructed her carefully, and when he considered her ready, had her invested with the Servite habit of Philip Benizi. Despite her mother's protest, she was professed as a tertiary of the order a year later.
As a tertiary, Giuliana continued to live at home where she gradually gained her mother's complete approval for her profession. After the death of her mother in 1304, Giuliana moved to another house where she led a community life with a number of women who devoted themselves to prayer and works of mercy. Their habit resembled that of the men of the Servite Order. With great reluctance Giuliana accepted the post of superior at the urgent request of her companions. Because she drew up a code of regulations for the order which was formally confirmed 120 years later, she is honored as the foundress of all women religious of the Servite Order, although she was not the first to be admitted to its ranks.
Those who were her contemporaries and were privileged to live under her guidance testified that she outstripped them all in her zeal, her charity, and her austerities. Her sympathies extended to all with whom she came into contact, nor did she ever let slip an opportunity of helping others, especially when it was a question of reconciling enemies, of reclaiming sinners and of relieving the sick. She showed great devotion to the Eucharist in which she found her strength. According to tradition, on the day of her death, being unable to take food, she was deprived of communion. At her request a host was place on her chest; it miraculously penetrated her body, enabling her to be nourished with the sacraments of Christ's body. After she died a short time later, the image of the cross that had been on the Host was found on her breast. There is a reference to this in the collect recited on her feast, June 19.
Giuliana Falconieri died in Florence in 1341 in her seventy-first year and was canonized in 1737. St. Juliana is the patron saint of bodily ills, sicknesses, and those who are ill.