14 April: St. Justin, martyr

COLLECT (1962):
Deus, qui per stultitiam crucis eminentem Iesu Christi scientiam beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti; eius nobis intercessione concede; ut, errorum circumventione depulsa, fidei firmitatem consequamur.

Let’s have your flawless yet smooth versions of this beautiful Collect for one of the great saints of the earliest times of Holy Church!

Reflect on what these people believed… the faith in which they believed fuel like a fusion reactor by the faith by which they believed.

They were willing to die.

From Justin.. before you go trooping up to Holy Communion the next time:

There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us Euxaristia, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body; "and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood; "and gave it to them alone.

First Apology 65-66



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  1. Geoffrey says:

    My Latin is not so good as to provide my own unique translation, but I will post ICEL’s version from today’s Liturgy of the Hours:

    “Merciful God, our Father,
    neither hardship, pain, nor the threat of death
    could weaken the faith of Saint Martin.
    Through our faith, give us courage
    to endure whatever sufferings the world may inflict upon on us.”

    For ICEL, I thought this was very nice, but I look forward to seeing more accurate translations. I thought this prayer was especially pertinent for today, considering what the Church is currently going through!

  2. joanofarcfan says:

    I love to see and hear those words, “the Holy Ghost.” It has been so long….

  3. Rellis says:

    Of course, this feast is now June 1st in the modern General Roman Calendar. But I appreciate the nod to the older calendar here.

  4. gloriainexcelsis says:

    I wouldn’t attempt it, but here it is in the 1962 Missal:

    O God, Who through the foolishness of the cross didst teach the blessed Martyr Justin the surpassing knowledge of Jesus christ: enable us by his intercession to put away all deceits of error and obtain steadfastness of faith. Through the same our Lord…..

    and then there is this from the St. Andrew’s Missal of 1945, which I have had since age 13
    (65 years ago):

    O God, who by the foolishness of the cross, didst wonderfully teach blessed Justin, Thy martyr, the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ; grant us through his intercession, that driving away all wiles of error, we may become steadfast in faith. Through the same Lord….

    I rather like the “driving away all wiles of error.”

  5. Geoffrey says:

    Ugh, my mind was in the Ordinary Form… feel free to delete my post Father, as it makes absolutely no sense! :-\

  6. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Here is an attempt:

    O God, who through the simplicity of the cross did teach blessed Justin Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ; allow us through his intercession to attain to steadfastness of faith, the fraud of errors having been driven away.

    Quick and incomplete observations (it is late and I have been reading Nabokov):

    “Stultitia” is a jarring term here, being in classical Latin “foolishness” or “folly.” It is used also to mean “simplicity” such that “foolish simplicity” brings to mind the Eastern and especially Russian notion of holiness born of simple thought, or the uncluttered mind. Perhaps, Father, your dictionaries of later Latin have more information than my L&S.

    “Emineo” whence “eminens” = “surpass, stand out, be something eminent.” I use “surpassing” for the participle here, since it sounds so cool.

    “Depello” = “drive away”. “Circumventio” = “defrauding.” The ablative absolute here “circumventione depulsa” as usual presents a translation challenge, i.e. where to put it in English?

    “Consequor” is a verb laden with meanings: Lewis and Short have “to follow, follow up, press upon, go after, attend, accompany, pursue any person or thing attain to something intellectually or by speech, to understand, perceive, learn, know;to reach, overtake, obtain; to follow, follow up, press upon, go after, attend, accompany, pursue any person or thing,” etc., etc. I have opted for “attain to” for “consequamur” (1st plural pres subjunctive with “ut”).

    It will be nice to see an assessment of this that takes into account some “later” Latin. Father, where is this collet from?

    I did rely on the St Andrews Missal, though I must admit that the phrase “wiles of erros” is mighty appealing from a stylistic point of view.

  7. A. J. D. S. says:

    Here is my try:

    O God, who marvelously taught blessed Justin Martyr by the lofty folly of the cross of Jesus Christ: obtain for us his intercession, so that, the fraud of errors being dispelled, we may seek after the strength of faith.

    I have to admit that all the accusatives in the first clause threw me off a bit, so hopefully I assigned all the adjectives to the correct nouns!


  8. JARay says:

    I must admit that I had to look at:-“Deus, qui per stultitiam chttps://wdtprs.com/wp-admin/post-new.phprucis eminentem Iesu Christi scientiam beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti; eius nobis intercessione concede; ut, errorum circumventione depulsa, fidei firmitatem consequamur.”, twice. But then I subtracted from “http…up to..php” and obtained:-
    Deus, qui per stultitiam crucis eminentem Iesu Christi scientiam beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti; eius nobis intercessione concede; ut, errorum circumventione depulsa, fidei firmitatem consequamur.
    I rather think that good examples of translation have already been offered and I doubt if mine would offer any competition, although I can honestly say that I understand what it means even if my “casting away the circumvention of errors” is not as elegant as something like “driving away all wiles of error”.

  9. A. J. D. S. says:

    Now that I see this more clearly, I think perhaps the folly of the lofty cross of Jesus Christ works much better.


  10. Animadversor says:

    Now that I see this more clearly, I think perhaps the folly of the lofty cross of Jesus Christ works much better.


    Deus, qui per stultitiam crucis eminentem Iesu Christi scientiam beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti; eius nobis intercessione concede; ut, errorum circumventione depulsa, fidei firmitatem consequamur.

    Alex, eminentem [lofty] cannot be taken with crucis [cross] since eminentem is in the accusative and crucis is in the genitive. Eminentem here could be taken with either stultitiam or scientiam, since they are both in the accusative. Most here seem to take it with scientiam, which makes immediate sense and seems to fit the rhythm of the words perhaps a little better; taking it with stultitiam does not make immediate sense, and to the world will never make any sense.

    Sometimes saying these things out loud helps:

    Deus, qui per stultitiam crucis · eminentem Iesu Christi scientiam · beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti


    Deus, qui per stultitiam crucis eminentem · Iesu Christi scientiam · beatum Iustinum Martyrem mirabíliter docuisti

    Which? Must one choose?

  11. Tom in NY says:

    Watch the contrasts, among – stultitia, scientia, and later circumventio and firmitas. Now grab your Vulgate for 1 Cor 1:22-23 and v. 25:
    22 Quoniam et Iudaei signa petunt, et Graeci sapientiam quaerunt,
    23 nos autem praedicamus Christum crucifixum, Iudaeis quidem scandalum, gentibus autem stultitiam;…
    25 quia quod stultum est Dei, sapientius est hominibus, et, quod infirmum est Dei, fortius est hominibus.
    The original of 23 uses the contrast particles ” Ioudaiois men skandalon ethnesin de morian” and to maintain the contrast in v. 24, “de sophian.”
    Now you’re ready.
    “God, who by the high foolishness of the Cross, have taught most wonderfully its wisdom to blessed Justin Martyr, grant us his intercession, so that when we have thrown off the false leads of error, we may follow the truth of faith.”
    Go back to the Vulgate for the first two chapters of Wisdom. She is not “eminens”, but “diligens. (1:6)” Therefore, we may consider that “eminens” does n o t modify “sapientia.” Now of course, Justin was an outstanding apologist, so “eminens” could be one of h i s attributes.
    As to “circumventione,” see Wis 2:12, “Conveniamus justum,” or “Let’s get around this just man…”, or in NAB, “beset”. Here, “wiles of errors” is a nice English turn of phrase.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  12. Ioannes Andreades says:

    The order adj-genit-noun is far more common than noun-genit-adj, so the presumption should be that eminentem modifies scientiam.

  13. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Tom, the contrast is clear even if one takes eminentem as modifying sapientiam.

  14. It’s also “foolishness”, because Justin was a “lover of wisdom”, a philosopher.

    For the whole “eminens” thing, ‘supreme’ or ‘lofty’ or ‘highest’ or ‘overeminent’ might be better. It’s knowledge that sticks out. (Sorta like the cross sticking out of history….)

  15. Harold says:

    My Latin is not sufficient to translate, but it seems that ICEL left out the petition for St. Justin’s intercession and instead emphasized “our faith.” While I certainly think one must have faith to endure, it would have been nice if ICEL had left in the petition for his intercession. Or am I missing something?

  16. mpm says:

    Oh God, who didst marvelously teach Blessed Justin the Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ by the foolishness of the Cross; grant us, through his intercession, a firm foundation for our Faith, by our resistance to the corroding power of errors.

    [N.B. Favoring “circumveniens” as “undermining” like waves undermining the foundations of a beach-house in a hurricane, and “firmitas” alluding to the house’s foundation. Also “faith/works” :: “grant us”/”by resisting”.]

  17. mpm says:

    Hi Harold,

    If you are referring to the following post, Comment by Geoffrey — 13 April 2010 @ 10:11 pm, I think Geoffrey has already acknowledged that he got the feast days mixed up.

  18. Andrew says:


    “… or am I missing something?”

    You’re not missing anything: the prayer ends with a petition that “through the martyr’s intercession, may we acquire a firmness of faith, having expelled the deceits of error”.

  19. my kidz mom says:

    Thank you Father for yet another beautiful post. I have learned more about the richness of my Catholic faith from your postings than I have from 8 years of Catholic grammar school, 4 years of C. high school, and 2 years of C. college.

  20. Father S. says:

    As I have pointed out before, the addition of the “O” or “Oh” as part of the direct address, while it may sound nice, is not in the Latin. Call me a purist, but there are times when this exists, such as in the O Antiphons. It is not, however, here. Further, I would assert that the addition of this small word changes the sense of the prayer. It puts a strong (though not necessarily unwarranted) emphasis on the supplicatory nature of the collect.

    Here is my rather literal translation. I like the translation of “circumventione” as “trickery.” I suppose that one could use other things, but I like this.

    “God,[You – “isti”] who through the [eminent – here or later] foolishness of the Cross, marvelously taught Blessed Justin [the] Martyr the [eminent – here or before] knowledge of Jesus Christ; grant [or “concede to”] us his intercession; that, driven from the trickery of errors, we may seek after [or obtain] the firmness of faith.”

  21. Michaelus says:

    I vote for stultitiam crucis and eminentem scientiam just to keep the foolishness of the cross pure and make us all think of Paul’s words. But Animadversor has a good point – why choose?

  22. Tom in NY says:

    Harold aequm sensum habet. In ICEL intercessio ad S. Justinum abest; persona intercessionis ad nos mutatur. Etiam sensus “errorum” et “firmitatis” deficiunt.

    Spiritu sapientiae (sanctae?)cogitanda, litteras Libri Sapientiae in Vulgata 1:6, “Spiritus enim diligens hominem est sapientia…”
    aut eodem in LXX (non in Hebraica exstat) “Philanthropon gar pneuma sophia..” videamus. Illa capita de unitate Sapientiae (Sophiai) cum Deitate loquntur, non de altitudine Sapientiae (Sophiai).

    Satis dixi. Ut semper, salutationes.

  23. Tom in NY says:

    Errata: “aequm” et “cogitanda”; corrigenda, “aequum” et “cogitanda.”

    Patientiae gratias ago.

  24. Tom in NY says:


  25. Justin from Ohio says:

    A great day to celebrate my patron saint….Justin’s apologies are a must read for any Christian who wants to learn what the early Church and the earliest Christians really believed (and as we know, they were undeniably Catholic).

  26. we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…

  27. Justin from Ohio says:

    We should always cite the passage from Justin written above when we are confronted by Protestants about the early Church….does the celebration described by Justin sound more like a Catholic Mass or more like a Baptist service, or a Methodist service, or a Jehovah Witness service, or a mega-church Evangelical service?

    It’s a wonderful gift to be able to point back to the very beginnings of the Church and have such a clear explanation of what the Mass was and still is….for the past 2,000 years.

  28. FrCharles says:

    Too bad I came late to the post; I can’t contend with what’s already been said regarding translation. I will say that it was one of the great joyful surprises of my life to find the relics of St. Justin when I visited the Capuchins at Immaculate Conception in Rome. (The site of our famous bone chapels.)

    I use this same text from Justin when I train EMsOHC.

  29. mpm says:


    That’s very interesting. I was there a long time ago, but probably didn’t realize St. Justin’s relics were there (among so many others, oy veh).

    I do remember smiling to myself at the “attitude” reflected by the Capuchins who decorated the crypts with the bones of their confreres. And on the very Via Veneto itself, with the “jet set” taking espressos above on the sidewalk! If they only knew of the horrors lurking beneath their feet!

  30. Ioannes Andreades says:

    I think you have to choose because I think you need to put a breath in there somewhere. Best put it between two noun phrases.

  31. Animadversor says:

    Ioannes Andreades, yes, when a priest is praying this Collect at Mass, he must choose, since, as you note, he has to take a breath somewhere—unless he has a very bad manner of speaking Latin aloud—and in such cases I should choose to make the placement of the breath consonant with the grammatical construction most likely consciously, or perhaps primarily, intended by the author of the prayer; in this case, I should vote for eminentem…scientiam. But when one is meditating upon the prayers, then the other construction is suggestive….

  32. Animadversor says:

    I ought to say (or maybe I oughtn’t), that more than one priest I’ve heard has a very bad manner of speaking Latin aloud; the intonation, pauses for breath, etc., seem to be wholly unrelated to any possible meaning of the words, even allowing for an inept attempt to reflect solemnity and sacrality in a hieratic mode of speaking. I’m afraid that the most likely explanation is that they are not very comfortable with the Latin and so simply cannot reflect the meaning of the words in their style of speaking. I should like to ask, especially priests who may be reading this, would it be profitable to bring this to the deficient celebrant’s attention in some way? How best? One wishes to be kind, especially to those who mean well, and to be effective. I shouldn’t like to have the priest, in his mind, lump me in with the fellow who reamed him out because he didn’t, as Father Z likes to say, hold his fingers together in just the way that Father Punctiliosus O’Malley did in 1949.

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