Saint of the Day – 7 October – Saint Justina of Padua (Died c 304) Virgin and Martyr. Born in Padua she was Martyred in c 304 in Padua. Patronages – Padua, Venic and Santa Giustina, Italy. Also known as Giustina di Padova.
The Roman Martyrology states today: “At Padua, Saint Justina, Virgin and Martyr, who was Baptised by blessed Prosdocimus, disciple of St Peter. As she remained firm in the faith of Christ, she was put to the sword by order of the Governor Maximus and thus went to God.”
Justina of Padua was a Virgin of noble birth in the City which claims her Patronage. her father, Vitalian, was a rich nobleman and Prefect of Padua. Her parents were converted to Christianity by the preaching of Saint Prosdocimo, also a Patron of Padua, and not having been blessed with children up to that time, they received Justina in answer to their prayer.
She was devoted to her religion from her earliest years and ultimately she took the vow of perpetual virginity. At this time arose the persecutions of the Christians by Nero and Maximian the Prefect who had succeeded Vitalian, proved himself particularly brutal.
As Justina would visit the prisons to comfort and encourage the Christians there, Maximian ordered her arrest. While she was passing by the Pont Marin near Padua, she was seized by the soldiers. When she was brought before Maximian he was struck by her beauty and endeavoured, by every means, to shake her constancy. However, she remained firm against all attacks and the Prefect caused her to be slain with the sword.
Medieval texts describe her as a disciple of Saint Peter the Apostle since Saint Prosdocimus, the first Bishop of Padua, is said to have been Justina’s teacher and his hagiography states that he was sent from Antioch by Peter. This, however is chronologically impossible as Justina, being a young woman in 304 could not have known Prosdocimus as he died in approximately 100.
St Justina is a Patron Saint of Padua. After St Mark, she is also a second Patroness of Venice. The Paduan Basilica and Abbey of Santa Giustina, house the Martyrdom of St Justine by Paolo Veronese. The Abbey complex was founded in the 5th century on Justine’s tomb and in the 15th century became one of the most important Monasteries in the region.
St Venantius Fortunatus ranks her among the most illustrious holy Virgins, whose sanctity and triumph have adorned and edified the Church, saying that her name makes Padua illustrious, And in his poem on the life of St Martin, he bids those who visit Padua, there to kiss the Sacred Sepulchre of the blessed Justina, on the walls of which, they will see the actions of St Martin represented in figures or paintings.