Justina was born to pagan parents and was raised in Antioch. Her father was a priest of the idols. One day she heard a Deacon proclaiming that God had become Man and was born of the Most Pure Virgin. The Deacon proclaimed the Word of God and Christ’s suffering for humankind. Justina was uplifted and began attending Church. She later convinced her mother and father to renounce paganism and they like her were baptised.
Justina had vowed to protect her virginity. A young man named Aglaias was captivated by Justina’s beauty. He would follow her and profess his love for her and asked her to marry him. She refused saying “my Bridegroom is Christ, Him I serve, and for His sake I preserve my purity. He preserves both my soul and my body from every defilement.” Aglaias was furious and resolved to take Justina by force. He managed to kidnap her and he called upon a local sorcerer and magician named Cyprian. Cyprian decided to unleash the demon of lust to ignite her with impure lust.
In the night, Justina arose and in that moment, she felt distress in her body and shameful thoughts arose in her. She was deeply ashamed and she immediately tuned to prayer, calling upon Christ, and praying into the night. Justina was able to conquer the demon and her lustful thoughts. Cyprian tried twice more with two other demons and failed. Cyprian came to realise that the demons were frightened of prayer, the Cross and the mention of Christ. He started to question what would happen if Jesus Christ himself came to him. Cyprian demanded that the devil leave him. The devil was furious and attacked him, Cyprian called out to God for help and he was free. Cyprian was baptised a Christian and went on to become a Bishop and led a holy life, leading many to Christ.
Eventually Justina and Cyprian were arrested for spreading the Word of God. They were tortured for days and given opportunities to renounce their faith and return to paganism. They both refused and were martyred.
There is a monastery in Kiffane in Lebanon named after these two saints. It was established in the seventh century as a Maronite Church.
By the nineteenth century the newly established Lebanese Maronite Order established the Church as a monastery and it continues as a monastery to this day. It has seen many saints including Saint Charbel, Saint Nehmtallah and Blessed Estephan Nehme. They studied and lived there as monastics.
Blessed Nehme’s body remains at the monastery. His body remains incorrupt and many Christians and Maronites make pilgrimages to see it and pray for his intercession.
In our current world, the idea of magic, card reading, horoscopes and séances remain as prevalent as they were in the fourth century. However, we learn from Cyprian and Justina, that this is not the work of God and is dangerous as it can invite the spirit of darkness. Our repentance and hope is found in Christ, just as Cyprian came to know, when he was unable to conquer Justina’s pure heart for evil.
Saints Juntina and Cyprian pray for us!