Lawrence Justinian, St.
LAWRENCE JUSTINIAN, ST.
Spiritual writer, bishop, and first patriarch of Venice;b. Venice, 1381; d. there, Jan. 8, 1456. At the age of 19, after a spiritual crisis, he entered the Canons Regular at San Giorgio on the island of Alga, near Venice. The community became a congregation of secular canons living a common life and was approved in 1404. Lawrence Justinian (Lorenzo Giustiniani) was elected superior at Vicenza in 1407, and held the same office at San Giorgio in Alga for four terms (1409–21), and afterward he was four times elected general of the congregation (1424–31). In 1433 he was named bishop of Castello by eugene iv, and in 1451 he was transferred to the See of Venice. He was distinguished for the simplicity and poverty of his personal life, but was eminently, even heroically, liberal in the practice of charity toward others. He was noted also for the intensity of his apostolic zeal. His writings, the composition of which paralleled the different stages of his career, comprise 15 doctrinal works and a collection of sermons.
His doctrinal works fall into two groups. The first, concerned with the religious life, began with his Lignum vitae (1419) and ended with De compunctione et complanctu christianae perfectionis (1428), although the central work, which sums up all the others, was De casto connubio Verbi et animae (1425). The second group, which grew out of his apostolic activities, began with De spirituali animae interitu (1425) and culminated with De institutione et regimine praelatorum (c. 1450). Throughout these works there is a basic unity in the form of a dominant theme, that of Eternal Wisdom, which was derived from his mystical experience.
His conversion from the world and his entrance into the monastery was due to a vision of Eternal Wisdom that called to him to be taken as a spouse (see Fasciculus amoris 16). All spiritual paths develop from that as a progressive possession of Incarnate Wisdom in the ever more profound assimilation of the knowledge attained through love, until the soul becomes, in the light of Wisdom, a new creature, which is made to the image of the Incarnate Word and espoused to Wisdom by love.
His teaching on the apostolate, included in the second group of writings, presupposes the foregoing doctrine and is a logical development of it. Only he can be a true apostle who has attained a true and proper union with Wisdom. The Incarnate Word will infuse into such a one His own sentiments and desires for the salvation of neighbor, and the soul will correspond to this by giving testimony of the love it bears. The apostolate is nothing other than the communication of that same Wisdom; it is a diffusion of truth permeated by love. The apostle, whose work is on the efficacious level of the supernatural, not only does not impoverish, but actually enriches himself, by communication.
Much of the figure of Lawrence Justinian remains still to be brought to light. Hagiographical works about him, from that of the Bollandists to that of P. La Fontaine, are defective because of their dependence on the first life written by Bernardo Giustiniani, the nephew of the saint; and complementary studies of importance, such as those of I. Tassi and G. Cracco, have been few. The same can be said of his spirituality, for the different authors have treated only of its collateral aspects, whereas the sapiential theme constitutes the central and personal element in Lawrence Justinian's mystical doctrine and in his teaching on the apostolate. He was canonized by alexander viii in 1690.
Feast: Sept. 5 (episcopal consecration).
Bibliography: Biographical. b. joannes, De beato Laurentio Justiniano, primo patriarcha veneto, Acta Sanctorum Jan. 1 (1643) 551–563. a. regazzi, Notizie storiche edite ed inedite di S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Venice 1856). p. la fontaine, Il primo Patriarca di Venezia (3d ed. Venice 1960). b. giustiniani, Vita B. Laurentii Justiniani Venetiarum Proto Patriarchae, with Ital. tr. (Rome 1962). Special studies. g. cracco, "La fondazione dei Canonici secolari di S. Giorgio in Alga," Rivista di storia della chiesa in Italia 23 (1959) 70–88. s. g. mantese, S. Lorenzo Giustiniani priore del Monastero di S. Agostino in Vicenza, in Miscellanea in memoria ed onere di Mons. F. M. Mistrorigo 1 (Vicenza 1956) 719–757. i. tassi, Ludovico Barbo (Rome 1952). s. tramontin, S. Lorenzo Giustiniani nell'arte e nel culto della Serenissima (Venice 1956). S. Lorenzo Giustiniani, protopatriarca di Venezia nel V centenario della morte: 1456–1956 (Venice 1959). f. cola-santi, San Lorenzo Giustiniani nelle raccolte della Biblioteca nazionale marciana (Rome 1981). On the writings of the saint. s. tramontin, Saggio di bibliografia Laurenziana (Venice 1960). a. costantini, Introduzione alle opere di S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Venice 1960). n. barbato, Ascetica dell'orazione in S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Venice 1960). f. de marco, Ricerca bibliografica su S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Rome 1962). g. di agresti, La Sapienza, dottrina di spiritualità e di apostolato in S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Rome 1962). g. geene, Praerogativa Doctoris Ecclesiae in operibus S. Laurentii Justiniani (Rome 1962). s. giuliani, Vita e dottrina (Rome 1962). a. huerga, Presencia de las Obras de S. Lorenzo Giustiniani en la Escuela de la Oracion (Rome 1962). t. piccari, Note marginali al libello del dottorato di S. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Rome 1962). m. l. fay, Episcopal Asceticism in the Thought of Saint Lawrence Justinian (Rome 1970). p. m. spoletini, Il De contemptu mundi di s. Lorenzo Giustiniani (Rome 1971). g.m. pilo, Lorenzo Giustiniani: due imprese pittoriche fra Sei e Settecento a Venezia, San Pietro di Castello e Santa Maria delle Penitenti (Pordenonesi 1981), iconography.
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