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Martyr, c.100 - 165

Even after he became a Christian, he wore his scholar's robes and walked and talked with philosophers. In Rome, he even opened a school of philosophy. All his life he had studied the works of Aristotle, Pythagoras, Plato, and the Stoics. Then Justin discovered the wisdom that is of Christ. He did not think that should disqualify him as a scholar.

Born of wealthy pagan parents about the year 100, he was a native of Flavia Neapolis (the ancient city of Sichem in Palestine). Justin was given an excellent liberal education, applying himself to poetry and history and then advancing to study the philosophers, especially Plato. One day when he was walking along a lonely beach trying to picture to himself what God is really like, he met an old man who told him that if he wished to learn more about the true nature of God he must read the Hebrew prophets, who had lived before any of the philosophers and whose prophecies had been fulfilled in their own age in the person of Jesus Christ.

Justin became a Christian about the year 130 and spent the rest of his life teaching and writing about the Christian faith. Up to this time most Christians were satisfied to endure misrepresentation in order to protect the sacred mysteries from being profaned, and little was known to the outside world about the beliefs of Christianity. Justin was convinced from experience that there were many who would gladly embrace Christianity if it were properly explained to them. He therefore openly set forth Christian dogma, even describing what took place at their secret meetings. Justin never became a priest but as a layman he wandered about in his philosopher's cloak, conversing with people of every walk of life. He held debates with pagans, heretics, and Jews. In Rome he founded a school and there he argued in public with a cynic called Crescens, whom be showed to be ignorant.

Possibly it was through the efforts of Crescens that Justin was apprehended. Justin had already drawn attention to himself, however, by sending open letters to the emperor and to the Roman Senate condemning the state for persecuting Christians. He was brought before the city prefect about the year 165. After a bold confession of faith, he was condemned to be scourged and beheaded.

We honor Justin today as both a martyr and a Father of the Church. While apostolic Fathers like Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Polycarp had addressed their letters and explanations to members and churches within the Christian fold, Saint Justin was the first to defend the faith against non-Christians and enemies of the Church. His learned writings are part of the priceless heritage of Christianity.




Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved