Justina (d. 304)

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Justina (d. 304)

Saint. Name variations: Justina of Damascus. Died in 304. Her martyrdom is placed by some under the reign of Diocletian (284–305); others have her living during the reign of Claudius II (268–270).

The story of Justina, who shared her martyrdom with St. Cyprian, has been accepted by Prudentius and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The East Roman empress Eudocia (c. 401–460) recorded the story in verse during the 5th century.

Cyprian was a famous magician who had studied every aspect of his art and settled into a life of sin and evil-doing, since no one was able to resist his powers. However, one day when he attempted to seduce a young Christian woman called Justina, she successfully resisted him. Believing that he had encountered divine grace, Cyprian burned his magic books and embraced Christianity. After many years of penance, he became a priest and then a bishop. Following the persecution edict of 304, however, he and Justina were condemned and tortured. Cast into a caldron of boiling oil, they reportedly felt no pain and survived their ordeal unscathed, only to be beheaded afterwards. According to custom, the bodies were left without burial, but it was believed that some Christian soldiers transported them to Italy. St. Justina's emblem is the unicorn, because it is believed that the unicorn can only be brought under control by a sinless woman. Her feast day is on September 26.

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