St. Justin, apologist and martyr, was one of the most important Christian writers of the second century. He himself tells how his study of all the schools of philosophy led him to Christianity, and how he dedicated his life to the defense of the Christian faith as "the one certain and profitable philosophy."St. Justin is particularly celebrated for the two Apologies which he was courageous enough to address in succession to the persecuting emperors Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius. One of them contains a description of the rites of baptism and the ceremonies of Mass, thus constituting the most valuable evidence that we possess on the Roman liturgy of his day. He was beheaded in Rome in 165. Justin is also referred to as "the Philosopher."According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Angela Merici. Her feast is now celebrated on January 27. St. Justin's feast was celebrated on April 14.
Justin, the son of Priscus, was a Greek by race, and was born at Nablus in Palestine. He passed his youth in the study of letters. When he grew to manhood he was so taken with the love of philosophy and the desire of truth, that he became a student of philosphy and examined the teaching of all the philosophers. He found in them only deceitful wisdom and error. He received the light of heaven from a venerable old man, who was a stranger to him, and embraced the philosophy of the true Christian faith. Henceforth he had the books of Holy Scripture in his hands by day and night, and his soul was filled with the divine fire enkindled by his meditations. Having thus acquired the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ, he devoted his learning to the composition of many books explaining and propagating the Christian faith.
- St. Justin was a prolific writer, and one of the first Christians to write about the Eucharistic liturgy of the early church. Read some of Justin Martyr's writings.
- Read this account of St. Justin's life and another account from the Church Fathers of his martyrdom.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia has an excellent entry on St. Justin. Their summary: "The role of St. Justin may be summed up in one word: it is that of a witness. We behold in him one of the highest and purest pagan souls of his time in contact with Christianity, compelled to accept its irrefragable truth, its pure moral teaching, and to admire its superhuman constancy. He is also a witness of the second-century Church which he describes for us in its faith, its life, its worship, at a time when Christianity yet lacked the firm organization that it was soon to develop, but the larger outlines of whose constitution and doctrine are already luminously drawn by Justin. Finally, Justin was a witness for Christ unto death."