"I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"
St. Luke 12:50
Saint Justin was born in about the year 103 of pagan parents at Neapolis or Sichem in Samaria, site of Jacob's well. He was well educated and applied himself in particular to the study of philosophy, always with one object that he might come to know God. He sought this knowledge among the contending schools of philosophy, but in vain; and finally God appeased the thirst He Himself had created.
One day, while Justin was walking by the seashore, meditating on the thought of God, a majestic old gentleman met him and questioned him concerning his doubts. When he had made Justin confess that the ancient philosophers taught nothing certain about God, the elderly man told him of the writings of the inspired prophets of Israel, and of Jesus Christ whom they announced. Saint Justin himself relates how he counseled him to seek light and understanding through prayer, for none can understand these things", he told him, if God and His Christ do not give him understanding of them.
The Scriptures and the constancy of the Christian martyrs led Justin from the inadequacy of human reason to the light of faith. His conversion occurred between 132 and 137. In his zeal for the Faith he traveled to Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor and Italy, gaining many to Christ. It is believed he was ordained a priest, or at least a deacon. Saint Justin wrote: I have resolved that in all I say, my only purpose will be to speak the truth; I will say it without fear or any other consideration, even if I should at the same hour be cut up in pieces. In Rome he did indeed seal his testimony with his blood with four of his disciples, under Marcus Aurelius.
The account of their interrogation has been preserved, for then as now, court stenographers wrote down the words of judges, witnesses and the accused, and the early Christians paid money for the right to copy the records. Do you think, the prefect said to Justin, that by dying you will enter heaven, and be rewarded by God? I do not think, he replied, I know. The five Christians were condemned to be flogged and then beheaded. Certain writings of Saint Justin are still extant and still pertinent: Among them are his Discourse to the Greeks, and his famous Apology addressed to the Roman senate and people, and the emperor Antoninus, concerning the unjust laws against Christians. His Dialogue with Tryphon, a young Jew, in which he cites the Messianic prophecies, is the longest and most popular of his writings.
Reflection. Then, as now, there were many religious opinions, but only one certainty the certainty of the Catholic faith. This certainty which only the Catholic faith can give, should be the measure of our confidence and our zeal. Let us learn to value the gift of faith which many received only after a long search, having lived in the misery of a world which did not know the true God.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894; Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud and Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4