HOLY HIEROMARTYR JUSTINIAN OF RAMSEY ISLAND

Celebrated December 5

Our holy Father Justinian was of noble Breton stock. Brought up from childhood in the study of literature, he shone among the most illustrious of his race by the depth of his knowledge. And having been ordained to the priesthood, he carried out his duties faithfully.

At length a Divine voice came to him: "Go out from thy land, and thy kindred, and the house of thy father."

Having collected together some companions, the holy man embarked in a boat made of hides, praying to God to lead him to a land in which he could lead a solitary life. And at length he arrived at a land by the name of Hormay, where, after he had stayed for some time, many were fired by his example to leave the world and hasten under his direction.

But after a short while he received a second command from God to leave his dwelling-place. Then, embarking in a boat, and committing himself to the winds and waves, he arrived at the island which is now known as Ramsey, off the western coast of Wales. There he found a man named Honorius, the son of King Thefriauc, who had abandoned the world and devoted himself entirely to God. Honorius received him kindly, and then, fired by zeal, he handed over to Justinian his land and dwelling-place so that he could devote himself without hindrance to the winning of souls for Christ.

Seeing that the place was fitting for the monastic life, and far from the tumult of the world, Justinian said:

"I agree to your petition so long as your sister with her handmaid removes her bed far from us."

Some unbelievers laughed at this. But, impressed by the eloquence and grace of the holy man, Honorius said:

"Holy father, I wish to enjoy your sweet and honorable company, so I shall send my sister to another region."

So the sister of blessed Honorius, having received the blessing of the holy man, departed into a distant country.

Now the fame of the holy man reached the ears of St. David, archbishop of Menevia, who rejoiced in his arrival and sent messengers to him, beseeching him to come to him. When he came he was received with great honor; and St. David was so pleased with him that he took him as his confessor and spiritual father. And whatever dwellings he chose, whether on the island or on the mainland, he gave to him and to the brothers who flocked to him.

One day, while Justinian was giving himself over to prayer and reading on the island, five men in a boat came to him and said:

"He whom you love is ill and commands you to come to him without delay."

On hearing this, the saint hurried to the boat and began to chant psalms. But when they had rowed to the middle of the channel, he looked up and saw that the men were much uglier than those he was accustomed to see. Then he clearly understood that they were evil spirits. Raising his hands and eyes to heaven, he began to chant the psalm: "God is my Helper". And while he was chanting the second verse, "Let them be turned back and confounded that seek after my soul", the spirits vanished like black crows. And thus supported by the help of God, he was lifted from the depths of the sea onto a rock on the mainland, where he found St. David, whom the evil spirits had said, was ill, safe and well.

When the enemy of the human race saw that he had been conquered by the saint, and was able neither to overcome him be repeated assaults, nor to draw him by evil suggestions from the service of God, he used other crafty machinations, and infiltrated three of his demons among the servants of the man of God. Then the servants were seized with madness, and not only refused to obey the salutary counsels of their master, who was entreating them to work and not to lead an idle life, but also did not fear to rush at him, throw him to the ground and cut off his head.

At the place where his head fell a most beautiful fountain gushed out of the rock, whose water confers healing on all the sick. Thus a man by the name of Jonah had been given poison in his milk and his stomach had turned ulcerous. When he had taken some of the water, he vomited a living frog and the ulcer disappeared completely.

But those sons of iniquity who had committed the crime were struck with leprosy, and recognized that this was God's vengeance on them. Then they came with groaning and weeping to a rock which is still called "the lepers' rock". There they lived, loading their bodies with heavy penances, and were counted worthy of forgiveness through the prayers of St. Justinian.

One great miracle is followed by another. For St. Justinian's decapitated body rose and took the head in its arms and descended to the sea shore. Walking across the water, it came to the port which is called after his name, and to the church which is now dedicated in his name: Llanstinian, near Fishguard. There it lay down and was buried. Many miracles were wrought there. The ill came there and returned cured, giving thanks to God. St. David came with his brethren in response to a Divine vision, and taking the holy body with psalms and hymns to the church of Menevia (now St. David's), placed it with honor in a new tomb. Behind an iron grill at the back of the altar in the Anglican cathedral of St. David's, one can still see the bones of two men, one big and one small. There are probably the bones of St. David (who was a big man) and of his confessor, St. Justinian. The saint died in the sixth century.

Holy Hieromartyr Justinian, pray to God for us!

By Vladimir Moss. Posted with permission.

(Sources: C. Horstman, Nova Legenda Angliae, 1901, vol. II, pp. 93- 95; David Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978, pp. 228-229)





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