The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Justin, Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus, Who Suffered at Rome

justin_trial-e1338565866755This is a short and fairly straight-foward work chronicling the martyrdom of Justin and his friends before Rusticus, the prefect of Rome.  In essence, Justin and the others refuse Rusticus’ command, “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings.”  Justin asserts that he will obey “our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  When quizzed on the doctrinal content of Christianity, Justin informs him that God is “one from the beginning,” that He is “the maker and fashioner of the whole creation,” and that they worship “the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God…the herald of salvation and teacher of good disciples.”  He boldly proclaims the “boundless divinity” of Christ as well.

The prefect then quizzes Justin and his friends on where they worship and how they became Christians.  Just played a role in many of his friends becoming Christians, as they testified, though, for some of them, they came to know Christ under the tutelage of their parents.  Many of these others are apparently young people as Rusticus asks them where their parents are.  Interestingly, there is a gloss on this martyrology in later editions stating that Justin was forced to drink hemlock.  This is apocryphal, of course, though the reason for the addition is clear enough:  to draw a comparison between Justin and Socrates.  In its original form, however, this work lacks embellishments and is therefore all the more sobering and powerful an account.

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