Saint Justin Martyr
April 13, 2019
by staff

Saint Justin Martyr (ca 100 – ca 165) was born at Flavia Neapolis, in what is today the West Bank, in Israel. His family may have been Greek immigrants who settled in the area. As a young man, he enjoyed studying 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. Saint Justin had, nonetheless, 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 in the love of pleasure.”

One day, when he was around thirty years old, as he walked by the sea, an old man approached him and they struck up a conversation. During their talk, the old man explained to him the testimony and teachings of the old testament prophets and Christian saints. Saint Justin found in these teachings the fullness of truth he had been searching for. This realization, in addition to the moral quality of the Christians, led him to be baptized and become Catholic.

After this experience, Saint Justin moved to Rome where he instituted his own school, in which he taught philosophy. He also became a Christian apologist, engaging in debates and writing several works in defence of the faith, amongst them, Dialogue with Tryphon and Apologies. He was eventually denounced to the Roman authorities, along with six of his students, for their Christian faith. They were given the choice 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.