St. Justin the Martyr the Philosopher (+165)
Commemorated June 1
St. Justin was one of the earliest Christian apologists. A convert to Christianity, he was a prolific writer. His notable work of two “Apologies” were addressed to the Roman emperors. His defense and explaining Christianity as the true philosophy earned his martyrdom. “The Acts of Justin the Martyr” is believed to be a record of his trial where he and six of his companions were sentenced to beheading.
St. Justin was born into a wealthy pagan family (Greek or Roman). Most of what is known of his life comes from his own writings. From an early age, he displayed intelligence, love for knowledge, and a devotion to the knowledge of Truth. He studied the various schools of philosophy including at Alexandria and Ephesus. He traveled extensively and eventually settled in Rome.
In Ephesus, he became interested in Christianity. One day while walking along the seashore, there appeared an old man beside him. St. Justin was impressed by this Christian man, who explained that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises through the Jewish prophets and so was the only true philosophy. St. Justin was also impressed by the steadfastness of the Christian martyrs. In about 130, he became a Christian and as a philosophy student, he approached Christianity as bringing completeness to the pagan philosophies. From that time, he devoted his talents to preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He traveled throughout the Roman Empire sowing the seeds of faith. “Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim it will be condemned by God,” he wrote.
From his scroll: “To yield and give way to our passions is the lowest slavery, even as to rule over them is the only liberty.”