June 1: The feast of *Saint Justin Martyr*
Today, June 1, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Justin Martyr* (100-165), early Christian philosopher and apologist, martyr for the faith, and author of several letters on the basic tenets of Christianity which survive today.
Saint Justin lived at a time close to the life and death of Christ, and was a direct disciple of the 12 disciples, particularly Saint John. Saint Justin, later given the surname martyr in respect for his faithful death, was born to pagan parents in Samaria.
As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. He was well-educated and became a teacher and philosopher. Around AD 130, after a chance conversation with an old man, his life was transformed.
Henceforth he had the books of Holy Scripture in his hands by day and night, and his soul was filled with the divine fire enkindled by his meditations. He was converted and baptized at Ephesus, following his encounter with one of the early Christians, and spent the remainder of his life traveling, writing, and teaching philosophy—all the while vigorously defending the Christian faith and promoting it’s spreading.
Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. The best known of his works are his First Apology and Second Apology.
One of the most important aspects of St. Justin Martyr’s writings is that they demonstrate that early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In the custom of his time, Justin, as an established philosopher and teacher, founded a school at Rome. He was eventually denounced as a Christian by Crescens, a pagan philosopher whom he had beaten in debate. Saint Justin and six other Christians (five men and a woman) were put to death in 165 by beheading, after they refused to offer sacrifice to the gods at Rome. Some of the faithful stole away his body and buried it in a fitting place.
*St. Justin, pray for us.*
*✝PRAYER TO ST JUSTIN FOR STEADFASTNESS IN THE FAITH*
O God, who through the Cross wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, Grant us, through his intercession, that, having rejected deception and error, we may become steadfast in the faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen