Saint of the Day – 1 June – St Justin also known as St Justin Martyr – Martyr, first Christian Philosopher, Apologist, Orator, Teacher, Writer, Missionary (c100 – beheaded in 165 at Rome, Italy. His relics in the Capuchin church, Romeat Nablus Palestine) – Patron of apologists, lecturers, orators, speakers, philosophers. Attributes ax, pen, sword.
Born at the turn of the second century, Justin grew up under pagan parents and early on began to seek after knowledge. According to Justin himself, he studied under several of the most important philosophical systems of the day but found them all wanting.
Around the age of 30, however, he went out into a field near the sea to be be alone with his thoughts and had an encounter that would change his life. An older man began to follow him at a distance. Justin turned to speak to him and before he really knew what was happening, the man was presenting the gospel. Finally, Justin had found the true philosophy for which he had been searching. Of that moment, he wrote:
“A fire was suddenly kindled in my soul. I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable. That is how and why I became a philosopher. And I wish that everyone felt the same way that I do.”
Justin spent the rest of his life defending this true and profitable philosophy. He even went to Rome itself to found a school at which he taught Christian philosophy. He wrote several defenses of the Christian faith, even writing apologetic works directed to the Roman emperor and the Roman senate. His books give us insight into the early Church. In one of them he described the ceremony of Baptism around the year 160. It was similar to the ceremony today. In another place, he wrote that the Sunday meetings of the Christian community included readings from Scripture, a homily, offering of bread and wine and giving Holy Communion. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate.
After contending for Christianity with a cynic philosopher, he was turned in to the government as a heretic and false teacher. They arrested him and six of his disciples. When asked to reject Christ and make a sacrifice to the Roman gods, Justin boldly replied:
“No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false.”
In his new found faith, not only did he find truth but Justin found a truth worth living and dying for –– as he was beheaded for his refusal to denounce Jesus. In his life, Justin sought to demonstrate how the Christian faith was consistent with reason and logic. In his death, he earned the surname Martyr.