St. Justin Biography

 

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SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR

Feast day, June 1

St. Justin was born in Flavia Neapolis, in modern day Israel, around 100-114 A.D.  His parents were pagans and of Greek origin.  They were wealthy and able to provide him with a first-class education.  This thirst for knowledge led him to apply himself to the study of philosophy.  He studied all varieties of pagan wisdom - Stoicism, Pythagoreanism, and Platonism - until his conversion to Christianity about the year 130. He describes his conversion in his famous book, Dialogue with Trypho:  Justin was walking by the sea near the town of Caesarea, when he met an old man who revealed the riches of the true Faith to him. The man told Justin about Jesus and the Hebrew prophets, and encouraged him to pray so that he would be able to understand the truth about God.  Convinced of this as the one true Faith, he was baptized and began teaching and writing about Christianity.

Justin explained to the pagans why they should not worship idols and revealed to them the mysteries of the true Faith. He traveled to other lands to debate publicly. He also wrote two open letters, The First Apology and The Second Apology, to the emperor Antonius Pius and his son, the philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. In these long, written arguments known as apologies, he explained and defended the Faith.

At last Justin incurred the wrath of a cynic philosopher, Cresens, for criticizing his immorality, and Justin was arrested for being a Christian. He was brought before the Roman prefect, Junius Rusticus, to be accused. Just before Rusticus sentenced him to death, he asked Justin, "If you are killed, do you suppose you will go to heaven?" "I do not suppose it," Justin answered, "but I know and am fully persuaded of it." Justin and five other martyrs were beheaded around the year 165.

The principal facts of Justin's life are gathered from his own writings.  Although many of his writings have perished, the surviving ones are among the most important that have come down to us from the second century and give some of the first accounts of parts of the Mass.  Justin is an outstanding model for lay apostles of today. His life was devoted to the task of harmonizing the wisdom of the world with those greater riches revealed in the true Faith.

St. Justin Martyr is the patron of philosophers, apologists, and lecturers.

The image above is a statue of St. Justin that was commissioned for our parish when it was built in 1959.  His clothing depicts that of a philosopher, and he holds a feather pen and book signifying his writing.  St. Justin Martyr Church contains an icon of St. Justin, which was created especially for our parish in 1999.  The icon shows St. Justin surrounded by panels depicting his life story. 

LINKS about St. Justin Martyr:  

Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08580c.htm

Catholic Online Saints  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=74