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Julian the Apostate (d. 363)

Today marks the 1650th anniversary since the death of the last pagan Roman emperor (Julian the Apostate). His death marks the beginning of the permanent ascendancy of Christianity as a religio-political force in the Roman Empire, Europe, and the Mediterranean world. Interestingly, Emperor Julian was killed by an Arab (possibly Christian) assassin from the tribe of Ta’i in Syria and Iraq while he was campaigning against Sassanid Iran.

This Coptic icon, which represents Julian being killed by St. Mercurius (known as “Abu Seifein” or “Master of the Two Swords” in Arabic), is interesting because it shows how Middle Eastern Christianity transformed the death of Julian into a miraculous event.

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