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Saint Justin Martyr

Saint Justin Martyr

Saint Justin Martyr (ca 100 – ca 165) was born at Flavia Neapolis, today’s West Bank, Israel. His family may have been Greek immigrants who settled in the area. As a young man, he applied himself to the study of philosophy. His studies, however, left him unsatisfied regarding the origin and destiny of man.   

During the second century, Christianity was much-maligned or, at best, viewed with suspicion by many. Nonetheless, Saint Justin had great admiration for Christians due to the beauty of their moral lives and their courage under persecution. He would later write that, “When I was a disciple of Plato, hearing the accusations made against the Christians and seeing them intrepid in the face of death and of all that men fear, I said to myself that it was impossible that they should be living in evil and the love of pleasure.” 

One day, when Saint Justin was about thirty years old, as he walked by the sea, an elderly man approached him. They struck up a conversation. During their talk, the man explained to him the teachings of the Old Testament prophets and of Christian saints. Saint Justin found in these teachings the fullness of truth for which he had been searching. This realisation, in addition to the moral quality of the Christians, brought about his conversion. 

After being baptised and becoming a Christian, Saint Justin moved to Rome, where he instituted a school where he taught philosophy. He also became an apologist for the faith, engaging in debates and writing several works, including Dialogue with Tryphon and Apologies. He was eventually denounced to the Roman authorities for his Christian faith, along with six of his students who were also Christian. They were told to choose between sacrifice to the Roman gods or death. They chose the latter as the infinitely better option. Saint Justin and his six companions were then scourged and beheaded.

 

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