Sub-Saharan Africa, 01 June, 2023 / 11:15 am (ACI Africa).
"We are slain with the sword, but we increase and multiply; the more we are persecuted and destroyed, the more are deaf to our numbers. As a vine, by being pruned and cut close, shoots forth new suckers, and bears a greater abundance of fruit; so is it with us." – St. Justin Martyr
Justin was born around the year 100 in the Palestinian province of Samaria, the son of Greek-speaking parents whose ancestors were sent as colonists to that area of the Roman Empire. Justin's father followed the Greek pagan religion and raised his son to do the same, but he also provided Justin with an excellent education in literature and history.
Justin was an avid lover of truth, and as a young man, became interested in philosophy and searched for truth in the various schools of thought that had spread throughout the empire. But he became frustrated with the professional philosophers' intellectual conceits and limitations, as well as their apparent indifference to God.
After several years of study, Justin had a life-changing encounter with an old man who questioned him about his beliefs and especially about the sufficiency of philosophy as a means of attaining truth. He urged him to study the Jewish prophets and told Justin that these authors had not only spoken by God's inspiration, but also predicted the coming of Christ and the foundation of his Church.
“Above all things, pray that the gates of life may be opened to you,” the old man told Justin, “for these are not things to be discerned, unless God and Christ grant to a man the knowledge of them.” Justin had always admired Christians from a distance because of the beauty of their moral lives. As he writes in his Apologies: "When I was a disciple of Plato, hearing the accusations made against the Christians and seeing them intrepid in the face of death and of all that men fear, I said to myself that it was impossible that they should be living in evil and in the love of pleasure.” The aspiring philosopher eventually decided to be baptized around the age of 30.