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Saint Justin


Justin the Philosopher, usually surnamed Martyr, was the first to defend the Christian religion in written works of any considerable length. Wherefrom we learn that he was born in Palestine, probably about the year 100, of pagan parents, whom we may suppose to have been of Greek descent. But Justin saith that he was, as it were, a Samaritan, in that he was born at Sychem (which same is now called Nablus). His parents used their wealth to give him a good education, and he so loved truth that he studied diligently all the known philosophies of the whole world. But each and everyone of them left him unsatisfied. Then one day he saw a venerable old man that seemed to be following him. With whom he held converse, and was told of a philosophy nobler and more satisfying than any he knew. It concerned a revelation from God to Hebrew Prophets, and was consummated in the coming of the very Truth of God in one named Jesus.

Henceforth he kept the Scriptures in his hands day and night. And therefrom he acquired an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus; and when he was about thirty, he became a Christian. Thereafter he devoted his great learning to the composition of books, and to private and public disputatons, in the defence and explication of our holy religion. Of his many treatises, three only have come down to us entire, to wit, the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Tryphon. The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor, his two sons, the Senate, and the Roman people. It is a vindication of the moral and spiritual character of Christianity, which some the Roman courts held to be criminal practice, worthy of death. Towards the end of this treatise are described the ceremonies of Baptism and the Sunday Eucharist of those days, wherein we have a most precious record of an ancient form of the Church's liturgy. The second Apology is something of an appendix to the first. And the Dialogue with Tryphon is a vindication of Christianity against the attacks of Judaism.

In the garb of a philosopher, Justin travelled much, holding disputations with pagans, hereticks, and Jews. Finally he came to Rome, where he debated publicly with the cynic Crescens, whom he convicted of ignorance and wilful misrepresentations. But on a later visit to Rome, he was apprehended, probably through the enmity of the Cynics, and sentenced by the Prefect Rusticus to be scourged and beheaded. The Acts of his trial and martyrdom are authentic, and shew how boldly he witnessed to Christ in the face of death. With him were martyred six other Christians, five men and one woman. The date of their heavenly birthday is not recorded, but it was somewhere around the year 165. However the Feast of Saint Justin is kept on the day following the commemoration in the Martyrology of the Martyr Carpus whose name in the Chronicle of Eusebius immediately precedeth Justin Martyr. The purpose of whose life is summed up in his own words: It is our duty to make known our doctrine, lest we incur the guilt and punishment of those who sin through ignorance.


O GOD, who by the foolishness of the Cross didst wondrously teach thy blessed Martyr Saint Justin an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus: grant that by his intercession, we being delivered from the deceitfulness of all false doctrine, may be firmly grounded in thy true religion. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1168-1169

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