Commemorated on June 1
The Holy Martyr
Justin the Philosopher was born at Sykhem – an ancient city of
Samaria. Justin's parents, being Greeks, were pagan. From the time of his
childhood the saint displayed profundity of mind, love for knowledge and a
fervent devotion to the cognition of Truth. When he came of age he studied the
various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics
(Aristotelians), the Pythagoreans, the Platonists – and he concluded, that
none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to the knowledge of the True
Once, when he was
strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek
out the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man, who in the ensuing
conversation revealed to Justin the essential essence of the Christian teaching
and advised him to seek out the solutions to all the questions of life in the
books of Holy Scripture. "But before anything else, – said the holy
elder, – pray diligently to God, so that He might open to thee the doors of
Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless it be given him in
understanding by God Himself, Who revealeth it to each that seeketh Him in
prayer and in love".
In his 30th year of
life Justin accepted holy Baptism (between the years 133 and 137). From this
time Saint Justin devoted his talents and vast philosophical knowledge to
preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He began to journey about throughout the
Roman empire, everywhere sowing the seeds of the faith of salvation.
"Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim, that one will
be condemned by God", – he wrote.
Justin opened up a
school, where he preached Christian philosophy. Saint Justin subsequently
defended the veracity and the salvificity of the Christian teaching, persuasively
confuting pagan sophistry (thus, for example, in a debate with the Cynic
philosopher Crescentius) and heretical distortions of Christianity (in
particular, he spoke out against the teachings of the Gnostic, Marcian).
In about the year
155, when the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) started a persecution against
Christians, Saint Justin personally gave him an "Apologia" (Apology)
in defense of Christians innocently condemned to execution – Ptolemy and
Lucias, the name of a third remaining unknown. In the "Apologia" he
demonstrated the falseness of the slander against Christians accused
"unjustly for the mere name as loathsome and transgressive
Christians". The "Apologia" made such a favourable effect upon
the emperor, that he ceased with the persecution. Saint Justin journeyed with
the decision of the emperor to Asia Minor, – where they were persecuting
Christians with particular severity, and he himself distributed the joyous
message about the imperial edict throughout the surrounding cities and countryside.
At Ephesus occurred
the debate of Saint Justin with the Rabbi Trypho. The Orthodox philosopher on
the basis of the Old Testament prophetic writings demonstrated the truth of the
Christian teaching of faith. Saint Justin gave an account of this debate in his
work "Dialogue with Trypho the Jew".
"Apologia" of Saint Justin was addressed to the Roman Senate. It was
written in the year 161, soon after Marcus Aurelius (161-180) ascended the
Having returned to
Italy, Saint Justin, like the Apostles, preached everywhere the Gospel and by
his Divinely-inspired words he converted many to the Christian faith. When the
saint arrived at Rome, the envious Crescentius – whom Justin always defeated
in debate – brought against him many false accusations before the Roman court.
Saint Justin was put under guard, subjected to torture and accepted a martyr's
death (+ 166).
In addition to the
above-mentioned works, the following array of compositions belong to the holy
martyr Justin the Philosopher: "Observations about the Soul",
"Demonstration against the Hellenes", "Speech against the
Hellenes". Saint John Damascene preserved a significant part of a
non-surviving work of Saint Justin "About the Resurrection". The
church historian Eusebios asserts, that by Saint Justin were written books
entitled "The Singer", "Denunciation of all Existing
Heresies" and "Against Marcian".
The relics of Saint
Justin the Philosopher rest in Rome.
In the Russian Church
the memory of the martyr is particularly glorified in temples of his name.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.