Philosopher and Martyr (ca. 100–165)
St. Justin was born of gentile parents in Samaria at the turn of the first century. As a young man he devoted himself to philosophy, exploring the major schools of Greek thought in his search for truth. After some years he discovered the Hebrew Scriptures and the early Christian writings and through these texts found his way to the Church. In embracing Christianity Justin saw no need to renounce philosophy; he regarded Christianity as the “true philosophy” toward which Plato and other philosophers had been groping. From then on, Justin committed his talents to expounding the Christian faith and engaging in debate with other religious seekers.
In his apologetic works Justin stressed the continuity between Christianity and the glimmerings of truth that were accessible to all people of goodwill: “Those who lived in accordance with Reason [Logos] are Christians, even though they were called godless.” Promoting the reasonableness and higher morality of Christianity, Justin traveled throughout the Greek world before settling in Rome. There, during an outbreak of persecution, he was arrested. Asked what teaching he followed, he replied, “I have studied all in turn, but have given my adhesion to the teaching of the Christians, however displeasing it may be to those who follow error.” He was beheaded.
“You can kill us but you cannot do us any real harm.”
Written by Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints.