Oil dedicated to martyr St Justin on prayer cloth
The oil dedicated to St Justin, an early Christian apologist, regarded as the foremost exponent of the Divine Word, the Logos, in the second century. He martyred, alongside some of his students, and considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Most of his works lost, but two apologies and a dialogue did survive. The First Apology, his most well known text, passionately defends the morality of the Christian
His Known History and Early Life
Born in the Roman city of Flavia Neapolis, near the ancient Samaritan city of Shechem, Justin the son of pagan parents. His exact birth date unknown, but probably in the early years of the second century.
Although some modern scholars have attacked Justin’s intellect, he did have an inquisitive mind, and he received a sound basic education in rhetoric, poetry, and history. As a young man, Justin studied various schools of philosophy, looking for answers to life’s most puzzling questions.
His first pursuit Stoicism, started by the Greeks and developed by the Romans, which promoted rationalism and logic. Stoics taught self-control and indifference to things beyond our power. Justin found this philosophy deficient.
Next, he studied under a Peripatetic or Aristotelian philosopher. However, Justin soon realized the man was more concerned with collecting his fees than with finding the truth. His next teacher a Pythagorean, who insisted Justin also study geometry, music, and astronomy, too burdensome a demand. The last school, Platonism, more intellectually complex, but it did not address the human issues Justin cared about.
When Justin about 30 years old, he encountered an old man while walking along the seashore. The man spoke to him about Jesus Christ, and how Christ the fulfillment promised by the ancient Hebrew prophets.
After his conversion, Justin still considered himself a philosopher instead of a theologian or missionary. He believed Plato and other Greek philosophers stole many of their theories from the Bible, but since the Bible came from God, Christianity was the “true philosophy” and became a belief worth dying for.
In a 165 A.D. account of the trial, Rusticus questioned Justin and the others about their beliefs. Justin gave a short summary of Christian doctrine and the others all confessed to being Christians. Rusticus then ordered them to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods, and they refused.
Rusticus commanded them to be scourged and beheaded.
Justin Martyr, in the second century, tried to bridge the gap between philosophy and religion. In the time following his death, however, he has been attacked as being neither a true philosopher nor a true Christian. In fact, he did set out to find the true or best philosophy and embraced Christianity because of its prophetic heritage and moral purity.