Double (1955 Calendar): April 14
Memorial (1969 Calendar): June 1
Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Justin (c. 100 - 165), martyr, who gave up his life for Jesus Christ. St. Justin lived the first 30 years of his life as a pagan philosopher. As he began to read the Sacred Scriptures, he began to believe in Jesus Christ and the Church. However, what converted him more than anything else was the example of the Christians. Remember, at this time Christians were murdered because of their faith. And, they went off proudly to die for Jesus Christ. St. Justin was so moved by their example that he began to believe.
St. Justin remarked that Socrates was a brilliant man with many followers but not one of them died for Socrates. It was the example of others that lead to St. Justin's conversion. And more than that - it lead him to his own martyrdom. St. Justin was own of the first great apologetics (defenders of the faith).
The Account of His Martyrdom:
The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgment seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin, "Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors."
Justin replied, "We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior, Jesus Christ."
Rusticus said, "What system of teaching do you profess?"
Justin said, "I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error."
The prefect Rusticus said, "Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?"
Justin said, "Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching."
The prefect Rusticus said, "What sort of teaching is that?"
Justin said, "Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
Rusticus said, "You are a Christian, then?"
Justin said, "Yes, I am a Christian."
The prefect said to Justin, "You are called a learned man and think you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?"
Justin said, "I hope that I shall enter God's house if I suffer in that way. For I know that God's favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives."
The prefect Rusticus said, "Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?"
Justin said, "It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain."
The prefect Rusticus said, "Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods."
Justin said, "No one who is right-thinking stoops from true worship to false worship."
The prefect Rusticus said, "If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy."
Justin said, "We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved."
In the same way the other martyrs also said, "Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols."
The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying, "Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws." Glorifying God, the holy martyrs were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Savior.
~from the Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Justin and his Companions
O God, Who through the foolishness of the cross didst teach the blessed Martyr Justin the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ: enable us by his intercession to put away all deceits of error and obtain steadfastness of faith. Through the same our Lord.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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