On this day: St. Justin Martyr

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Justin, a second-century philosopher who became a Christian and was beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to Roman gods.

Click here to find the writings of this Father of the Church. The First Apology, the Second Apology, and the Dialogue with Trypho are regarded by scholars as authentic.

In Chapter 64 of the First Apology, Justin compares Jupiter's creation of Minerva, a thought that sprang from his head in "female shape", with God's creation of the world, a Word.

Chapters 65 and 66, "Administration of the Sacrament" and "Of the Eucharist" are particularly interesting for their descriptions of second-century liturgical practices.

In Justin Martyr and His Worlds, edited by Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, Fortress Press, 2007, Bishop Colin Buchanan lists "Questions Liturgists Would Like to Ask Justin Martyr". What time of day did they meet? What about the "presider"? What is meant by "eucharisticizing"? Pages 152-158.

For a detailed analysis of the Apologies, see Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies, edited by Denis Minns, OP, and Paul Parvis, Oxford University Press, 2009. (Minns and Parvis are also among the contributors to Justin Martyr and His Worlds.)

On pages 251-255 (search term: honey), Fr. Minns explains the chapters in which Justin talks about Minerva and about the liturgy. Minns's text and footnotes are fascinating, an impressive display of erudition.

Click here for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the Office of Readings, there is an account of Justin's conversation with the prefect Rusticus, who condemned him to death.

Click here for the Mass readings. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about the Spirit of truth, a fitting selection for the feast of a philosopher who lived and died for truth.

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