Faithful Heroes: Justin Martyr, named for his fate

“No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false.” Those were the words uttered by Justin Martyr when asked to denounce his faith and make a sacrifice to the Roman gods.

Justin was born in Flavia Neapolis, a Roman city, around 100 A.D.. He probably lived a traditional Roman life and we know he was raised by pagan parents.

Justin was hungry for life’s meaning and searched through a variety of intellectual avenues. However, he was always left feeling alone and empty.

In 130 A.D. he had a conversation with an old man that transformed his life. He wrote “A fire was suddenly kindled in my soul. I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable. That is how and why I became a philosopher. And I wish that everyone felt the same way that I do.”

After ministering in Ephesus for several years, he moved to Rome and founded a Christian school. He also wrote two bold apologies {meaning defenses}, which followed The Dialogue with Trypho he wrote in Ephesus. These are his only writings that have survived.

He believed Christianity should be treated as a legal religion. He wrote “on behalf of men of every nation who are unjustly hated and reviled.”

He was arrested with his disciples for his faith. When threatened with death he said, “If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved.”

He was then beheaded around 165 A.D. This is how he received the surname of Martyr.

His relics are said to be at at the church of St. John the Baptist in Sacrofano, just north of Rome. However, the Church of the Jesuits in Valletta,Malta, also claims to have his relics.

His feast day is now held on June 1 {it was originally on April 14 until it was moved in 1968}. He was also proclaimed a saint.


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