November 2, 2018

Holy Martyr Justus of Trieste

St. Justus of Trieste (Feast Day - November 2)

Saint Justus was a citizen of Triest in Italy, known for his good works and almsgiving. When charges of being a Christian were brought against him by his fellow citizens, he was tried according to Roman law. Since he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, he was found guilty of sacrilegium and sentenced to death by drowning. According to a local tradition, he was thrown from a small boat into the Gulf of Triest, offshore the present promontorio of Sant'Andrea.

On the night of Justus' death the presbyter Sebastian was told in a dream that Justus' body had been washed ashore in spite of the weights meant to hold it down. Sebastian gathered his fellow believers and they went searching for the body, which they found on what is today Riva Grumula. Justus was then buried not far from the shore where he had been found. In late antique times the area near Piazza Hortis in Trieste was a cemeterial one and there is a good possibility that the former Basilica of the Holy Martyrs at the corner of Via Ciamician and Via Duca d'Aosta was built on Justus' tomb.

In the Middle Ages the body of Justus was translated to a chapel adjacent to the Church of Mary Mother of God (present day Duomo), attested since the sixth century. When, in the 10/11c, the chapel was joined to the church, the cathedral, though dedicated to Mary Mother of God, became known as the Cathedral of Saint Justus.

Early representations of the Saint are limited to Trieste itself, and in particular to the cathedral. They are: the silk icon in the treasury of the cathedral, the 12th century mosaic in the left apse, where Justus is shown with Saint Servulus, the Romanesque statue on the bell tower, a series of frescoes discovered in the cathedral in 1959, the miniature in the 14/15c breviary of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Trieste.