Memorial of Saint Justin: June 1 - Patron of Lecturers
Saint Justin was born of Greek parents in 100 A.D. at Nablus (ancient Shechem), Palestine, in what is today known as the West Bank Israel area. He came from a pagan family, but at the age of thirty-three, after years of studying the various systems of philosophy, he became converted to Christianity by way of Platonism. Thereafter, his whole life was devoted to the propagation and defense of the Faith in Asia Minor and at Rome.
He possessed an insatiable desire to learn the truth, wherever he could find it. As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. This led him to study the works of his famous Greek ancestors - Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.
We find in Saint Justin a rare combination of faith and reason and, being a writer, he was able to formulate his beliefs making use of both. He was a teacher and philosopher by profession. He heard the good news proclaimed by the disciples of our Lord. Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.
Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies. After he became a Catholic, he devoted his philosophical talents to showing the basis in reason for acceptance of the Christian faith.
It was reported that St. Justin had a deep admiration for the martyrs. He was fascinated that they believed in a person and a cause so much that they were willing to die rather than deny. At the age of thirty-three, after years of studying the various systems of philosophy, he became converted to Christianity by way of Platonism. Thereafter, his whole life was devoted to the propagation and defense of the Faith in Asia Minor and at Rome.
Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate. Though he retained the garb of a philosopher, he is the most important Christian Apologist of the 2nd century and the first of whom we possess written works. These are the two Apologies (to the Emperor Antoninus and the Roman Senate) setting forth the moral values of Christianity, and the Dialogue demonstrating its truth to the Jew Trypho. They are invaluable for the information they contain about the Christian Faith and practice at that time.
He opened the first School of Christian Philosophy at Rome shortly thereafter, where he drew the attention of the authorities because of his new teaching and faith in the risen Lord. His reputation for Christian zeal grew because of his writing in defense of the Catholic faith. He directed two "Apologies" to the Emperor Antoninus and to the Roman Senate. An edict of the Emperor Antoninus lessened the persecution of the Christians.
We are also told that St. Justin held several conversations with some elderly Christian person down by the lake side. There he learned of Jesus and many of the Old Testament people of faith, especially Abraham.
While bearing witness to the Faith in Rome, he was denounced as a Christian, most likely at the instigation of a Cynic philosopher whom he had outshone in a public debate. Rather than deny and renounce his faith, the more he publicly and openly professed his faith and fervor in teaching Christian Philosophy.
The next emperor however, imprisoned Saint Justin and condemned him to death. While teaching in a school in Rome, he was arrested and ordered to sacrifice to the gods. Rather than deny and renounce his faith, the more he publicly and openly professed his faith and fervor in teaching Christian Philosophy. He chose to be beheaded when he replied: "No right-minded man forsakes truth for falsehood." When asked if he was a Christian, he emphatically replied: "Yes, I am a Christian." For his staunch adherence to the Christian religion, St. Justin was finally beheaded in defense of the Faith and because of his teachings about the Lord. He died in Rome, a martyr on April 13, 165 AD. The six others who were with him remained steadfast and they all attained the palm of martyrdom.
His feast day is celebrated throughout the whole of Christendom on the 1st of June.