Lives of the Saints
[A.D. 110-165.] Justin was a Gentile, but born in Samaria, near Jacob’s well. He must
have been well educated: he had traveled extensively, and he seems to have been a
person enjoying at least a competence. After trying all other systems, his elevated
tastes and refined perceptions made him a disciple of Socrates and Plato. So he
climbed towards Christ. As he himself narrates the story of his conversion, it need
not be anticipated here. What Plato was feeling after, he found in Jesus of Nazareth.
The conversion of such a man marks a new era in the gospel history. The sub-
apostolic age begins with the first Christian author, — the founder of theological
literature. It introduced to mankind, as the mother of true philosophy, the despised
teaching of those Galileans to whom their Master had said, “Ye are the light of the
And this is the epoch which forced this great truth upon the attention of
contemplative minds. It was more than a hundred years since the angels had sung
“Good-will to men;” and that song had now been heard for successive generations,
breaking forth from the lips of sufferers on the cross, among lions, and amid blazing
faggots. Here was a nobler Stoicism that needed interpretation. Not only choice
spirits, despising the herd and boasting of a loftier intellectual sphere, were its
professors; but thousands of men, women, and children, withdrawing themselves not
at all from the ordinary and humble lot of the people, were inspired by it to live and
die heroically and sublimely, — exhibiting a superiority to revenge and hate entirely
unaccountable, praying for their enemies, and seeking to glorify their God by love to
their fellow-men.
And in spite of Gallios and Neros alike, the gospel was dispelling the gross darkness.
Of this, Pliny’s letter to Trajan is decisive evidence. Even in Seneca we detect
reflections of the daybreak. Plutarch writes as never a Gentile could have written
until now. Plato is practically surpassed by him in his thoughts upon the “delays of
the Divine Justice.” Hadrian’s address to his soul, in his dying moments, is a tribute
to the new ideas which had been sown in the popular mind. And now the Antonines,
impelled by something in the age, came forward to reign as “philosophers.” At this
moment, Justin Martyr confronts them like a Daniel. The “little stone” smites the
imperial image in the face, not yet “in the toes.” He tells the professional
philosophers on a throne how false and hollow is all wisdom that is not meant for all
humanity, and that is not capable of leavening the masses. He exposes the
impotency of even Socratic philosophy: he shows, in contrast, the force that works in
the words of Jesus; he points out their regenerating power. It is the mission of
Justin to be a star in the West, leading its Wise Men to the cradle of Bethlehem.
The writings of Justin are deficient in charms of style; and, for us, there is something
the reverse of attractive in the forms of thought which he had learned from the
philosophers. If Plato had left us nothing but the Timaeus, a Renan would doubtless
have reproached him as of feeble intellectual power. So a dancing-master might
criticize the movements of
an athlete, or the writhings of St. Sebastian shot with arrows. The practical wisdom
of Justin using the rhetoric of his times, and discomfiting false philosophy with its
own weapons, is not appreciated by the fastidious Parisian. But the manly and heroic
pleadings of the man, for a despised people with whom he had boldly identified
himself; the intrepidity with which he defends them before despots, whose mere
caprice might punish him with death; above all, the undaunted spirit with which he
exposes the shame and absurdity of their inveterate superstition and reproaches the
memory of Hadrian whom Antoninus had defied, as he had defied Antinous of
loathsome history, — these are characteristics which every instinct of the unvitiated
soul delights to honor. Justin cannot be refuted by a sneer.
He wore his philosopher’s gown after his conversion, as a token that he had attained
the only true philosophy. And seeing, that, after the conflicts and tests of ages, it is
the only philosophy that lasts and lives and triumphs, its discoverer deserves the
homage of mankind. Of the philosophic gown we shall hear again when we come to

IN the time of the lawless partisans of idolatry, wicked decrees were passed against
the godly Christians in town and country, to force them to offer libations to vain
idols; and accordingly the holy men, having been apprehended, were brought before
the prefect of Rome, Rusticus by name.
And when they had been brought before his judgment-seat, Rusticus the prefect said
to Justin, “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings.” Justin said, “To obey
the commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of
condemnation.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What kind of doctrines do you profess?”
Justin said, “I have endeavored to learn all doctrines; but I have acquiesced at last
in the true doctrines, those namely of the Christians, even though they do not please
those who
hold false opinions.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Are those the doctrines that please
you, you utterly wretched man?” Justin said, “Yes, since I adhere to them with right
dogma.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What is the dogma?” Justin said, “That according
to which we worship the God of the Christians, whom we reckon to be one from the
beginning, the maker and fashioner of the whole creation, visible and invisible; and
the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had also been preached beforehand by
the prophets as about to be present with the race of men, the herald of salvation
and teacher of good disciples. And I, being a man, think that what I can say is
insignificant in comparison with His boundless divinity, acknowledging a certain
prophetic power, since it was prophesied concerning Him of whom now I say that He
is the Son of God. For I know that of old the prophets foretold His appearance among
Rusticus the prefect said, “Where do you assemble?” Justin said, “Where each one
chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so;
because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible,
fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful.”
Rusticus the prefect said, “Tell me where you assemble, or into what place do you
collect your followers?” Justin said, “I live above one Martinus, at the Timiotinian
Bath; and during the whole time (and I am now living in Rome for the second time) I
am unaware of any other meeting than his. And if any one wished to come to me, I
communicated to him the doctrines of truth.” Rusticus said, “Are you not, then, a
Christian?” Justin said, “Yes, I am a Christian.”
Then said the prefect Rusticus to Chariton, “Tell me further, Chariton, are you also a
Christian?” Chariton said, “I am a Christian by the command of God.” Rusticus the
prefect asked the woman Charito, “What say you, Charito?” Charito said, “I am a
Christian by the grace of God.” Rusticus said to Euelpistus, “And what are you?”
Euelpistus, a servant of Caesar, answered, “I too am a Christian, having been freed
by Christ; and by the grace of Christ I partake of the same hope.” Rusticus the
prefect said to
Hierax, “And you, are you a Christian?” Hierax said, “Yes, I am a Christian, for I
revere and worship the same God.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Did Justin make you
Christians?” Hierax said, “I was a Christian, and will be a Christian.” And Paeon
stood up and said, “I too am a Christian.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Who taught
you?” Paeon said, “From our parents we received this good confession.” Euelpistus
said, “I willingly heard the words of Justin. But from my parents also I learned to be
a Christian.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Where are your parents?” Euelpistus said, “In
Cappadocia.” Rusticus says to Hierax, “Where are your parents?” And he answered,
and said, “Christ is our true father, and faith in Him is our mother; and my earthly
parents died; and I, when I was driven from Iconium in Phrygia, came here.” Rusticus
the prefect said to Liberianus, “And what say you? Are you a Christian, and unwilling
to worship [the gods]?” Liberianus said, “I too am a Christian, for I worship and
reverence the only true God.”
The prefect says to Justin, “Hearken, you who are called learned, and think that you
know true doctrines; if you are scourged and beheaded, do you believe you will
ascend into heaven?” Justin said, “I hope that, if I endure these things, I shall have
His gifts. For I know that, to all who have thus lived, there abides the divine favor
until the completion of the whole world.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Do you suppose,
then, that you will ascend into heaven to receive some recompense?” Justin said, “I
do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.” Rusticus the prefect
said, “Let us, then, now come to the matter in hand, and which presses. Having
come together, offer sacrifice with one accord to the gods.” Justin said, “No right-
thinking person falls away from piety to impiety.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Unless
ye obey, ye shall be mercilessly punished.” Justin said, “Through prayer we can be
saved on account of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when we have been punished,
because this shall become to us salvation and confidence at the more fearful and
universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Savior.” Thus also said the other martyrs:
“Do what you will, for we are Christians, and do not sacrifice to idols.”
Rusticus the prefect pronounced sentence, saying, “Let those who have refused to
sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the command of the emperor be scourged, and
led away to suffer the punishment of decapitation, according to the laws.” The holy
martyrs having glorified God, and having gone forth to the accustomed place, were
beheaded, and perfected their testimony in the confession of the Savior. And some
of the faithful having
secretly removed their bodies, laid them in a suitable place, the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ having wrought along with them, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
St. Justin the Philosopher[2]
A.D. 165
ST. JUSTIN was born at Neapolis, now Naplosa, the ancient Sichem, and formerly the
capital of the province of Samaria. Vespasian, having endowed its inhabitants with
the privileges belonging to Roman citizens, gave it the name of Flavia. His son Titus
sent thither a colony of Greeks, among whom were the father and grandfather of our
saint. His father, a heathen, brought him up in the errors and superstitions of
paganism, but at the same time did not neglect to cultivate his mind by several
branches of human literature. St. Justin accordingly informs us that he spent his
youth in reading the poets, orators, and historians. Having gone through the usual
course of these studies, he gave himself up to that of philosophy in quest of truth,
an ardent love of which was his predominant passion. He addressed himself first to a
master who was a Stoic; and after having stayed some time with him, seeing he
could learn nothing of him concerning God, he left him, and went to a Peripatetic, a
very subtle man in his own conceit; but Justin, being desired the second day after
admission, to fix his master's salary, that he might know what he was to be allowed
for his pains in teaching him, he left him also, concluding that he was no
philosopher. He then tried a Pythagorean, who had a great reputation, and who
boasted much of his wisdom; but he required of his scholar, as a necessary
preliminary to his admission, that he should have learned music, astronomy, and
geometry. Justin could not bear such delays in the search of God and preferred the
school of an Academic, under whom he made great progress in the Platonic
philosophy and vainly flattered himself with the hope of arriving in a short time at
the sight of God, which the Platonic philosophy seemed to have had chiefly in view.
Walking one day by the sea-side, for the advantage of a greater freedom from noise
and tumult, he saw, as he turned about, an old man who followed him pretty close.
His appearance was majestic and had a great mixture in it of mildness and gravity.
Justin looking on him very attentively, the man asked him if he knew him. Justin
answered in the negative. "Why then," said he, "do you look so steadfastly upon
me?" Justin replied, "It is the effect of my surprise to meet any human creature in
this remote and solitary place." "What brought me hither," said that old man, "was
my concern for some of my friends. They are gone a journey, and I am come hither to
look out for them." They then fell into a long discourse concerning the excellency of
philosophy in general, and of the Platonic in particular, which Justin asserted to be
the only true way to happiness, of knowing and seeing God. This the grave person
refuted at large, and at length by the force of his arguments convinced him that
those philosophers whom he had the greatest esteem for, Plato and Pythagoras, had
been mistaken in their principles and had not a thorough knowledge of God and of
the soul of man, nor could they in consequence communicate it to others. This drew
from him the important query, who were the likeliest persons to get him in the right
way? The stranger answered that long before the existence of these reputed
philosophers, there were certain blessed men, lovers of God and divinely inspired,
called prophets, on account of their foretelling things which have since come to pass
-- whose books, yet extant, contain many solid instructions about the first cause and
end of all things, and many other particulars becoming a philosopher to know. That
their miracles and their predictions had procured them such credit, that they
established truth by authority and not by disputes and elaborate demonstrations of
human reason, of which few men are capable. That they inculcated the belief of one
only God, the Father and author of all things, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whom he
had sent into the world. He concluded his discourse with this advice: "As for thyself,
above all things, pray that the gates of life may be opened unto thee; for these are
not things to be discerned, unless God and Christ grant to a man the knowledge of
them." After these words he departed, and Justin saw him no more: but his
conversation left a deep impression on the young philosopher's soul and kindled
there an ardent affection for these true philosophers, the prophets. And upon a
further inquiry into the credibility of the Christian religion, he embraced it soon after.
What had also no small weight in persuading him of the truth of the Christian faith
was the innocence and true virtue of its professors, seeing with what courage and
constancy, rather than to betray their religion or commit the least sin, they suffered
the sharpest tortures and encountered, nay, even courted death itself, in its most
horrible shapes. "When I heard the Christians traduced and reproached," says he,
"yet saw them fearless and rushing on death and on all things that are accounted
most dreadful to human nature, I concluded with myself that it was impossible those
men should wallow in vice and be carried away with the love of lust and pleasure."
Justin, by the course of his studies, must have been grown up when he was
converted to the faith. Tillemont and Marand understand, by an obscure passage in
St. Epiphanius, that he was in the thirtieth year of his age.  
St. Justin, after he became a Christian, continued to wear the pallium, or cloak, as
Eusebius and St. Jerome inform us, which was the singular badge of a philosopher.
Aristides, the Athenian philosopher and a Christian, did the same; so did Heraclas,
even when he was bishop of Alexandria. St. Epiphanius calls St. Justin a great
ascetic, or one who professed a moat austere and holy life. He came to Rome soon
after his conversion, probably from Egypt. Tillemont and Dom. Marand think that he
was a priest, from his description of baptism and the account he gave at his trial of
people resorting to his house for instruction. This, however, is uncertain; and Ceillier
concludes, from the silence of the ancients on this head, that he was always a
layman; but he seems to have preached and therefore to have been at least deacon.
His discourse, or oration to the Greeks, he wrote soon after his conversion, in order
to convince the heathens of the reasonableness of his having deserted paganism. He
urges the absurdity of idolatry and the inconsistency of ascribing lewdness and other
crimes to their deities; on the other hand, he declares his admiration of, and
reverence for, the purity and sanctity of the Christian doctrine and the awful majesty
of the divine writings, which still the passions and fix in a happy tranquillity the mind
of man, which finds itself everywhere else restless. His second work is called his
Parænesis, or Exhortation to the Greeks, which he drew up at Rome; in this he
employs the flowers of eloquence, which even in his apologies he despises. In it he
shows the errors of idolatry and the vanity of the heathen philosophers; reproaches
Plato with making a harangue to the Athenians, in which he pretended to establish a
multitude of gods, only to escape the fate of Socrates, while it is clear, from his
writings, that he believed one only God. He transcribes the words of Orpheus the
Sibyl, Homer, Sophocles, Pythagoras, Plato, Mercury, and Acmon, or rather Ammon, in
which they profess the unity of the Deity. He wrote his book on Monarchy, expressly
to prove the unity of God, from the testimonies and reasons of the heathen
philosophers themselves. The epistle to Diognetus is an incomparable work of
primitive antiquity, attributed to St. Justin by all the ancient copies, and doubtless
genuine, as Dr. Cave, Ceillier, Marand, &c., show; though the style is more elegant
and florid than the other works of this father. Indeed it is not mentioned by Eusebius
and St. Jerome; but neither do they mention the works of Athenagoras. And what
wonder that, the art of printing not being as yet discovered, some writings should
have escaped their notice? Tillemont fancies the author of this piece to be more
ancient, because he calls himself a disciple of the apostles; but St. Justin might
assume that title, who lived contemporary with St. Polycarp and others who had seen
some of them. This Diognetus was a learned philosopher, a person of great rank, and
preceptor to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who always consulted and exceedingly
honored him. Dom. Nourry mistakes grossly, when he calls him a Jew; for in this very
epistle is he styled an adorer of gods. This great man was desirous to know upon
what assurances the Christians despised the world, and even torments and death,
and showed to one another a mutual love, which appeared wonderful to the rest of
mankind, for it rendered them seemingly insensible to the greatest injuries. St.
Justin, to satisfy him, demonstrates the folly of idolatry and the imperfection of the
Jewish worships and sets forth the sanctity practiced by the Christians, especially
their humility, meekness, love of those who hate them without so much as knowing
any reason of their hatred, &c. He adds that their numbers and virtue are increased
by tortures and massacres, and explains clearly the divinity of Christ, the maker of
all things, and Son of God. He shows that by reason alone we could never attain to
the true knowledge of God, who sent his Son to teach us his holy mysteries; and,
when we deserved only chastisement, to pay the full price of our redemption; -- the
holy One to suffer for sinners, -- the person offended for the offenders; and when no
other means could satisfy for our crimes we were covered under the wings of justice
itself and rescued from slavery. He extols exceedingly the immense goodness and
love of God for man, in creating him, and the world for his use; in subjecting to him
other things, and in sending his only-begotten Son with promise of his kingdom, to
those who shall have loved him. "But after you shall have known him," says he, "with
what inexpressible joy do you think you will be filled! How ardently will you love him
who first loved you! And when you shall love him, you will be an imitator of his
goodness. He who bears the burdens of others, assists all, humbles himself to all,
even to his inferiors, and supplies the wants of the poor with what he has received
from God, is truly the imitator of God. Then will you see on earth that God governs
the world; you will know his mysteries and will love and admire those who suffer for
him; you will condemn the imposture of the world and despise death, only fearing
eternal death in never-ending fire. When you know that fire, you will call those
blessed who here suffer flames for justice. I speak not of things to which I am a
stranger, but having been a disciple of the apostles, I am a teacher of nations, &c."
St. Justin made a long stay in Rome, dwelling near the Timothin baths, on the
Viminal hill. The Christians met in his house to perform their devotions, and he
applied himself with great zeal to the instruction of all those who resorted to him.
Evelpistus, who suffered with him, owned at his examination that he had heard with
pleasure Justin's discourses. The judge was acquainted with his zeal, when he asked
him in what place he assembled his disciples. Not content with laboring in the
conversion of Jews and Gentiles, he exerted his endeavors in defending the Catholic
faith against all the heresies of that age. His excellent volumes against Marcion, as
they are styled by St. Jerome, are now lost, with several other works commended by
the ancients. The martyr, after his first Apology, left Rome, and probably performed
the functions of an evangelist in many countries, for several years. In the reign of
Antoninus Pius, being at Ephesus and casually meeting, in the walks of Xistus,
Tryphon, whom Eusebius calls the most celebrated Jew of that age, and who was a
famous philosopher, he fell into discourse with him, which brought on a disputation,
which was held in the presence of several witnesses during two entire days. St.
Justin afterwards committed to writing this dialogue with Tryphon, which work is a
simple narrative of a familiar unstudied conversation. Tryphon, seeing Justin in the
philosopher's cloak, addressed him on the excellency of philosophy. The saint
answered that he admired he should not rather study Moses and the prophets, in
comparison of whom all the writings of the philosophers are empty jargon and foolish
dreams. Then, in the first part of his dialogue, he showed that, according to the
prophets, the old law was temporary and to be abolished by the new; and in the
second, that Christ was God before all ages, distinct from the Father, the same that
appeared to Abraham, Moses, &c., the same that created man and was himself made
man and crucified. He insists much on that passage, Behold, a virgin shall conceive.
From the beginning of the conversation, Tryphon had allowed that from the prophets
it was clear that Christ must be then come; but he said that he had not yet
manifested himself to the world. So evident was it that the time of his coming must
be then elapsed that no Jew durst deny it, as Fleury observes. From the Apocalypse
and Isaiah, by a mistaken interpretation, Justin inferred the futurity of the
Millennium, or of Christ's reign upon earth for a thousand years, before the day of
judgment, with his elect, in spiritual, chaste delights -- but adds that this was not
admitted by many true orthodox believers. This point was afterwards cleared up, and
that mistake of some few corrected and exploded, by consulting the tradition of the
whole church. In the third part, St. Justin proves the vocation of the Gentiles and the
establishment of the church. Night putting an end to the conversation, Tryphon
thanked Justin and prayed for his happy voyage; for he was going to sea. By some
mistakes made by St. Justin in the etymologies, or derivation of certain Hebrew
names, it appears that he was a stranger to that language. The Socinians dread the
authority of this work, on account of the clear proofs which it furnishes of the divinity
of Christ. St. Justin testifies that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, of curing
the sick, and casting out devils in the name of Christ, were then frequent in the
church. He excludes from salvation willful heretics no less than infidels.
But the Apologies of this martyr have chiefly rendered his name illustrious. The first
or greater (which by the first editors was, through mistake, placed and called the
second) he addressed to the emperor Antoninus Pius, his two adopted sons, Marcus
Aurelius and Lucius Commodus, and the senate, about the year 150. That mild
emperor had published no edicts against the Christians; but, by virtue of former
edicts, they were often persecuted by the governors, and were everywhere traduced
as a wicked and barbarous set of people, enemies to their very species. They were
deemed atheists; they were accused of practicing secret lewdness, which slander
seems to have been founded on the secrecy of their mysteries, and partly on the
filthy abominations of the Gnostic and Carpocratian heretics; they were said in their
sacred assemblies to feed on the flesh of a murdered child; to which calumny a false
notion of the blessed Eucharist might give birth. Celsus and other heathens add that
they adored the cross and the head of an ass. The story of the ass's head was a
groundless calumny, forged by a Jew, who pretended to have seen their mysteries,
which was readily believed and propagated by those whose interest it was to decry
the Christian religion, as Eusebius, St. Justin, Origen, and Tertullian relate. The
respect shown to the sign of the cross, mentioned by Tertullian and all the ancient
fathers, seems ground enough for the other slander. These calumnies were advanced
with such confidence and, through passion and prejudice, received so eagerly, that
they served for a presence to justify the cruelty of the persecutors and to render the
very name of a Christian odious. These circumstances stirred up the zeal of St. Justin
to present his apology for the faith in writing, begging that the same might be made
public. In it he boldly declares himself a Christian and an advocate for his religion;
he shows that Christians ought not to be condemned barely for the name of
Christian, unless convicted of some crime; that they are not atheists, though they
adore not idols; for they adore God the Father, his Son, and the Holy Ghost, and the
host of good angels. He exhorts the emperor to hold the balance even, in the
execution of justice; and sets forth the sanctity of the doctrine and manners of
Christians, who fly all oaths, abhor the least impurity, despise riches, are patient
and meek, love even enemies, readily pay all taxes, and scrupulously and
respectfully obey and honor princes, &c. Far from eating children, they even
condemned those that exposed them. He proves their regard for purity from the
numbers among them of both sexes who had observed strict chastity to an advanced
age. He explains the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the flesh, and
shows from the ancient prophets that God was to become man, and that they had
foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, the vocation of the Gentiles, &c. He mentions
a statue erected in Rome to Simon Magus, which is also by Tertullian, Saint Austin,
Theodoret, &c. The necessity of vindicating our faith from slanders obliged him,
contrary to the custom of the primitive church, to describe the sacraments of baptism
and the blessed Eucharist, mentioning the latter also as a sacrifice "No one," says
he, "is allowed to partake of this food but he that believes our doctrines to be true,
and who has been baptized in the laver of regeneration for remission of sins, and
lives up to what Christ has taught. For we take not these as common bread and
common drink; but like as Jesus Christ our Savior, being incarnate by the word of
God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so are we taught that this food, by
which our flesh and blood are nourished, over which thanks have been given by the
prayers in his own words, is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus." He describes
the manner of sanctifying the Sunday, by meeting to celebrate the divine mysteries,
read the prophets, hear the exhortation of him that presides, and make a collection
of alms to be distributed among the orphans, widows, sick, prisoners, and strangers.
He adds the obscure edict of the emperor Adrian in favor of the Christians. It appears
that this Apology had its desired effect: the quiet of the church. Eusebius informs us
that the same emperor sent into Asia a rescript to the following purport: "When
many governors of provinces had written to my father, he forbade them (the
Christians) to be molested, unless they had offended against the state. The same
answer I gave when consulted before on the same subject. If anyone accuse a
person of being a Christian, it is my pleasure that he be acquitted and the accuser
chastised, according to the rigor of the law." Orosius and Zonaras tell us that
Antoninus was prevailed upon by the Apology of Justin to send this order.
He composed his second Apology near twenty years after, in 167, on account of the
martyrdom of one Ptolemy, and two other Christians, whom Urbicus, the governor of
Rome, had put to death. The saint offered it to the emperor Marcus Aurelius (his
colleague Lucius Verus being absent in the East) and to the senate. He undertakes in
it to prove that the Christians were unjustly punished with death, and shows how
much their lives and doctrine surpassed the philosophers, and that they could never
embrace death with so much cheerfulness and joy, had they been guilty of the crimes
laid to their charge. Even Socrates, notwithstanding the multitude of disciples that
followed him, never found one that died in defense of his doctrine. The apologist
added boldly that he expected death would be the recompense of his Apology and
that he should fall a victim to the snares and rage of some or other of the implacable
enemies of the religion for which he pleaded -- among whom he named Crescens, a
philosopher in name but an ignorant man and a slave to pride and ostentation. His
martyrdom, as he had conjectured, was the recompense of this Apology; it happened
soon after he presented this discourse, and probably was procured by the malice of
those of whom he spoke. The genuine acts seem to have been taken from the
praetor's public register. The relation is as follows:
Justin and others that were with him were apprehended and brought before Rusticus,
prefect of Rome, who said to Justin, "Obey the gods, and comply with the edicts of
the emperors." Justin answered, "No one can be justly blamed or condemned for
obeying the commands of our Savior Jesus Christ." RUSTICUS - "What kind of
literature and discipline do you profess?" JUSTIN - "I have tried every kind of
discipline and learning, but I have finally embraced the Christian discipline, how little
soever esteemed by those who were led away by error and false opinions "RUSTICUS
- "Wretch, art thou then taken with that discipline?" JUSTIN - "Doubtless I am,
because it affords me the comfort of being in the right path." RUSTICUS - "What are
the tenets of the Christian religion? JUSTIN - "We Christians believe one God,
Creator of all things visible and invisible; and we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, foretold by the prophets, the Author and Preacher of salvation, and the
Judge of mankind." The prefect inquired in what place the Christians assembled.
Justin replied, "Where they please, and where they can; God is not confined to a
place, as he is invisible and fills both heaven and earth, he is everywhere adored and
glorified by the faithful." RUSTICUS - "Tell me where you assemble your disciples."
JUSTIN - "I have lived till this time near the house of one called Martin, at the
Timothin baths. I am come a second time to Rome and am acquainted with no other
place in the city. If any one came to me, I communicated to him the doctrine of
truth." RUSTICUS - "You are then a Christian?" JUSTIN - "Yes, I am." The judge then
put the same question to each of the rest, viz., Chariton, a man; Charitana, a
woman; Evelpistus, a servant of Caesar, by birth a Cappadocian; Hierax, a Phrygian;
Peon, and Liberianus, who all answered "that, by the divine mercy, they were
Christians." Evelpistus said he had learned the faith from his parents but had with
great pleasure heard Justin's discourses. Then the prefect addressed himself again to
Justin in this manner: "Hear you, who are noted for your eloquence, and think you
make profession of the right philosophy, if I cause you to be scourged from head to
foot, do you think you shall go to heaven?" Justin replied, "If I suffer what you
mention, I hope to receive the reward which those have already received who have
observed the precepts of Jesus Christ." Rusticus said, "You imagine then that you
shall go to heaven and be there rewarded." The martyr answered, "I do not only
imagine it, but I know it, and am so well assured of it that I have no reason to make
the least doubt of it." The prefect, seeing it was to no purpose to argue, bade them
go together and unanimously sacrifice to the gods, and told them that in case of
refusal they should be tormented without mercy. Justin replied, "There is nothing
which we more earnestly desire than to endure torments for the sake of our Lord
Jesus Christ; for this is what will promote our happiness and give us confidence at
his bar, where all men must appear to be judged." To this the rest assented, adding,
"Do quickly what you are about. We are Christians and will never sacrifice to idols."
The prefect thereupon ordered them to be scourged and then beheaded, as the laws
directed. The martyrs were forthwith led to the place where criminals were executed
and there, amidst the praises and thanksgiving which they did not cease to pour
forth to God, were first scourged and afterwards beheaded. After their martyrdom,
certain Christians carried off their bodies privately and gave them an honorable
burial. St. Justin is one of the most ancient fathers of the church who has left us
works of any considerable note. Tatian, his disciple, writes that, of all men, he was
the most worthy of admiration. Eusebius, St. Jerome, St. Epiphanius, Theodoret, &c.,
bestow on him the highest praises. He suffered about the year 167, in the reign of
Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. The Greeks honor him on the 1st of June; in
Usuard and the Roman Martyrology his name occurs on the 13th of April.
St. Justin extols the power of divine grace in the virtue of Christians, among whom
many who were then sixty years old had served God from their infancy in a state of
spotless virginity, having never offended against that virtue, not only in action, but
not even in thought; for our very thoughts are known to God. They could not be
defiled with any inordinate love of riches who threw their own private revenues into
the common stock, sharing it with the poor. So great was their abhorrence of the
least willful untruth that they were always ready rather to die than to save their lives
by a lie." Their fidelity to God was inviolable, and their constancy in confessing his
holy name and in observing his law, invincible. "No one," says the saint, "can affright
from their duty those who believe in Jesus. In all parts of the earth we cease not to
confess him, though we lose our heads, be crucified, or exposed to wild beasts. We
suffer dungeons, fire, and all manner of torments; the more we are persecuted, the
more faithful and the more pious we become, through the name of Jesus. Some
adore the sun; but no one yet saw anyone lay down his life for that worship, whereas
we see men of all nations suffer all things for Jesus Christ." He often mentions the
devotion and fervor of Christians in glorifying God by their continual homage, and
says that the light of the gospel being then spread everywhere, there was no nation,
either of Greeks or barbarians, in which prayers and thanksgiving were not offered to
the Creator in the name of the crucified Jesus."
[1]  Ante- Nicene Fathers, Volume I.
[2]  Butler's Lives of the Saints, April 14
St. Justin the Philosopher Martyr