Saint Justin was born around the year 100, in the Palestinian province of Samaria. His parents followed the pagan Greek religion and raised Justin to do the same, but Justin’s father also provided him with an excellent education in literature and history.
Justin was a fervent lover of the truth. As a young man, he studied philosophy, searching for the truth in various popular schools of thought. But he became frustrated with the vanity and intellectual limitations of professional philosophers, as well as their indifference to God.
After studying for several years, Justin had a life-changing encounter with an old man, who questioned his beliefs, especially the idea of studying philosophy as a way to get to the truth. The man urged Justin to study the Jewish prophets, and told him that the authors not only received inspiration from God, but also predicted the coming of Christ and the founding of the Church.
Justin had always admired Christians from afar for the beauty of their moral life. He writes in his apologies: “When I was a disciple of Plato, hearing the accusations made against Christians and seeing them fearless in the face of death and all that men fear, I told myself that it was impossible for them to be to live in evil and in the love of pleasure. ”
Justin was baptized around the age of 30. After his conversion, he continued to wear the mantle associated with the philosophers of Greek culture. Inspired by the example of the Christian martyrs, he began to live a simple and austere lifestyle. He was probably ordained a deacon, because he preached, didn’t get married, and gave religious instruction in his home.
Justin is best known as the author of the earliest works of apologies that pleaded for the Catholic faith against the claims of Jews, pagans, and non-Christian philosophers. Several of the works were directed at Roman officials, to refute the lies told about the Church. His two most famous works are “Apologies” and “Dialogues with Tryphon”.
These works provide explicit descriptions of the beliefs and ways of worship of the early Church. Experts have noted that Justin’s descriptions match Church tradition in all essentials.
Around the year 150, Justin wrote his first defense of the faith to Emperor Antonius Pius, convincing him to view the Church with tolerance. In 167, however, Emperor Marcus Aurelius began to persecute Christians.
Justin wrote to Marcus Aurelius, trying to demonstrate the injustice of the persecutions and the superiority of the Catholic faith over Greek philosophy. Justin stressed the strength of his beliefs, saying he expected to be put to death for expressing them.
Justin was seized with a group of believers and brought before Rusticus, Prefect of Rome. The prefect made it clear that Justin’s life would be spared, telling him: “Obey the gods and respect the edicts of the emperors.” Justin responded that “no one can be rightly blamed or condemned for obeying the commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Rusticus then asked Justin and his companions about their belief in Christ and how they worshiped. “Listen to me,” he said, “you who are known for your eloquence, who think that you are making a profession of good philosophy. If I whip you from head to toe, do you think you’ll go to heaven?
“If I suffer what you say,” Justin replied, “I hope to receive the reward that those who have already received, who have obeyed the precepts of Jesus Christ.
“There is nothing we desire more sincerely than to endure torment for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he explained. “We are Christians and will never sacrifice to idols.”
Justin was flogged and beheaded, along with six companions who joined him in his confession of faith.