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E06326: The short recension of the Life of *Justus (bishop of Lyon, ob. c. 390, S02411) is written in Latin in Gaul, probably in the 5th c. It narrates Justus' departure from his see of Lyon to live incognito as an ascetic in Egypt, his life in Egypt, his recognition by a pilgrim from Lyon, and the translation of his remains to Lyon after his death.

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posted on 10.09.2018, 00:00 by dlambert
Life of Saint Justus, Bishop of Lyon (Vita sancti Iusti episcopi Lugdunensis, BHL 4599, CPL 2120)

1. Justus itaque Viennensis primum diaconus, postea vero Lugdunensis ecclesiae antistes sacratus est: quam tanta puritate, modestia, pietate, patientia per multos rexit annos, tanta circa pauperes cura, tanta divinorum mandatorum observantia, ut etiam magnificos atque praestantes illos Domini sacerdotes omni praeiret gratia virtutum. Igitur cum ita ingenti gloriae suae ac plebis profectu Domini ecclesiae praesideret, usque ad expulsionem ejus frementis diaboli exarsit invidia. Nam quodam die in urbe eadem quidam per subitum mentis furorem cum egressus in publicum obviam ignaros ferro confodisset, ac, pro atrocitate rei excitato tumultu, hinc atque inde multitudine infesta premeretur; eodem se, quo in scelere usus fuerat, telo tutatus, ad ecclesiam, recuperato paululum sensu, refugit, obseratisque sacrarum aedium valvis, diu reverentia loci insanientis populi furorem removit. Sed cum seditio procedens jam etiam divinae domui ignem minaretur, supradictus Antistes necessitate compulsus, accepta a primore quodam sacramentorum fide, nihil huic periculi intentandum, in custodia tantum, dum populo satisfieret, recipiendum, reum ab ecclesiæ claustris dimisit. Quem exceptum multitudo, cui in tumultu nihil pensi est, pedibus illigatis tractum, ultimo mortis supplicio affecit.

2. Tunc vero Vir ille Dei, sanctitate memorabilis, admissum facinus adscripsit sibi, non suum crimen, tam severus ultor culpae, ut putabat, suae, quam dissimulator alienae. Etenim cum fraus grassantis inimici suo sceleri ministram populi manum sibi supposuit, totum illud delictum beatissimus Justus in se retorsit: nam Justus ille, qui fuerat magnus sacerdotio, factus est major exilio. Itaque officium sacerdotale deserere, et peregrina, quo lateret, expetere decrevit. Nullus enim (se adeo inopinantibus proripuit) vel itineri ejus comes egit, praeter Viatorem, egregiae indolis puerum, qui officium tunc in ecclesia Lectoris gerebat. Hic solus beatissimum Senem latere cupientem vestigiis insecutus est; ac jam inter Arelatem atque Massiliam supra litus maris posito, et navim conscendere parato superveniens, non sine admiratione ei se obtulit: receptoque in solatium peregrinationis, heremum petens in Aegyptum navigavit.

3. Ibi ergo Justus merito et nomine, cum primum illo advenit, jam inter Sanctos positus, diu se quis esset occultavit, ut suppresso nomine atque honore humilitatis summae exerceri posset, non jam clericis tantum, verum monachis quoque ac laicis se inferiorem exhibens. Sed cum multo jam tempore ita tectus delituisset, accidit aliquando, ut summo monachorum sanctorumque conventu a quodam illic fratre, qui ab his partibus subito tunc peregrinus advenerat, agnosceretur: atque ad ejus genua provolutus est. Stupentibus cunctis, ac requirentibus, quid hoc esset, sanctum episcopum Justum esse respondit. Quo facto, admirantes universi tantae humilitatis Virum, culpantes ignorantiae suae praeteritam praesumptionem, quod Pontifici se nescientes praeposuissent, veterem erga eum abusionem recenti honore poenitebant. Admonitus est tamen jam non absque sui reverentia ab illis virtute eminentibus Sanctis, non oportuisse, eum cum aliorum peccato mercedem suam quaerere, neque ceterorum praesentium damno lucrum suae abjectionis expetere. Unde non immerito prophetico spiritu jam dudum dictum est: Delicta, quis intelligit?

4. Ego autem ipse sanctum quemdam presbyterum, pene jam nonagenariam aetatem agentem, vidi, cujus mihi relatione haec comperta sunt: nam in sermone ejus quasi sanctae historiae fides inerat. Referebat se in illis heremi partibus diu moratum fuisse, nec solum vidisse beatissimi nominis Justum, sed etiam familiaritate ejus usum fuisse; ac magnificum apparuisse inter illos, qui tunc in heremo revelationibus atque virtutibus tamquam magna luminaria rufulgebant, sanctum Macharium, Pafnutium ceterosque, quorum sanctitatis fama per Orientem vigebat. Horum itaque particeps vitae Justus noster, continuans noctes diebus orationibus et jejuniis, in conspectu Domini pervigil Lugdunensium astabat assertor. Aberat quidem eorum conspectibus, sed utilitati precibus aderat; neque illos reliquerat, ad quos utique semet intercessione referebat. Expetierat commoda fletibus loca, ut soli Domino vacans, quae pro suis peteret, efficacius impetraret. Illic ergo, velut quondam Moyses, indefessas ad caelum manus tendens, oratione contra Amalech certabat. In illa remota specula, veluti in edito colle residens, operiebatur periculosum illum cum vetusto hoste conflictum. Hujus ad precem intentas semper habens manus Sapientia ac sic adversus diaboli bellum subsidia semper pugnae suggerebat, precibus victoriam.

5. Eodem vero tempore, quo ipse in heremo morabatur, sanctus Antiochus tunc presbyter Lugdunensis, pio incitatus officio, usque ad visendum Episcopum suum pergere animo intendit, vir districtione praecipuus, et qui nunc immerito tempore interjecto ad idem pontificii culmen assumptus sit. Hic ergo cum desiderio Antistitis tanti terras ac maria transmitteret, venerandi nominis Justus adventum ejus ita fertur praenuntiasse, ut etiam quibus diebus quae accederet loca, non taceret, dicens: Carus noster Antiochus hodie illic moratur. Quod adeo manifeste probatum affirmatur, ut etiam die ipso, quo ad eundem venit, venturum esse praedixerit. Ceterum cum aliquot annis in heremo angelis proximam vitam egisset, et dignus adesset finis tantis laboribus regnum spondens caelorum; atque illis jam extremis sanctae commigrantis animae flens et consternatus mente Viator adstaret, dicens: Cui me, Domine, relinquas? respondisse dicitur, Nec turbaretur, quasi destitutus solatio, quia breve se illo quoque sequeretur. Quam utique prophetiam ac revelationem cito transitu sanctissimi juvenis constat fuisse completam.

6. Sed in gloria ejus neque illam Lugdunensium gratiam tacitus praeterierim, quod in referendo sancto ejus corpusculo usque in Australem plagam venerabilium se civium cura porrexit: et illa reverenda sancti Senis ossa a remotis terrae partibus cum alacritate et religione exhibuerunt, cum lacrymis et gaudio susceperunt; atque laboraverunt, ut qui cum ipsis jam spiritu erat, cum ipsis etiam corpore esset.


'1. And so Justus, originally a deacon at Vienne, was subsequently consecrated bishop of the church of Lyon. He presided over the church there for many years with such integrity, modesty, compassion and patience, displaying such care for the poor and such scrupulous observance of divine law, that he surpassed by the grace of his qualities those wonderful, outstanding priests of the Lord. Therefore, although he presided over the Lord’s church, with a huge increase in both the congregation and his own fame, the jealously of a raging demon flared up and led to his expulsion. One day in the city an individual went berserk, rushed outside and stabbed several people who unwittingly crossed his path. Uproar ensued in the wake of this atrocity and the perpetrator was quickly surrounded by a hostile mob. The man gradually regained his senses and, defending himself with the same weapon he had used to commit the crime, he took refuge in a church, barring the doors of the sacred building. For a time, a sense of reverence for the place quelled the fury of the mob. But when the growing discontent brought with it the threat of the church being burnt down, Justus, under great pressure, and having received solemn assurances from an official that no harm would befall the accused and that he would merely be held in custody until the people were placated, dismissed him from within the confines of the church. But the frenzied mob seized him, dragged him off, feet bound, and killed him.

2. Then indeed that man of God, memorable for his sanctity, blamed himself for what had happened, although it was not his crime, since he was a severe punisher of his own guilt (as he thought it), to the same extent that he disguised other people’s. For although the treachery of a hostile rioting mob had replaced legitimate public authority with its own wickedness, Justus took the whole weight of responsibility for the offence on himself. And so Justus, who had displayed greatness in the priesthood, became even greater in exile. He resolved to resign his priestly office and seek out foreign lands where he might hide. He departed so abruptly that his friends were unaware, and he had no companion on his journey, apart from a very talented young man called Viator, who at the time performed in church the office of reader. He alone followed in the blessed old man’s footsteps as he sought to hide himself. Viator caught up with Justus on the coast between Arles and Marseille, as he was about to board a ship and respectfully offered him his services. Welcoming some solace for the journey, Justus accepted him and set sail for Egypt, seeking the wilderness.

3. From the moment he arrived there, Justus was placed among the holy, due to his qualities and reputation. For a long time he concealed who he was, so that by hiding his name and rank he could practise the utmost humility, deferring not only to priests but also to monks and lay people. When he had remained undetected for a long time like this, it happened that he was recognised at a great gathering of monks and holy men by a brother from our region who had just arrived there as a pilgrim. The brother threw himself at the knees of Justus. Everyone was amazed and asked what this meant. The brother replied that this man was the holy bishop Justus. At this everyone admired his great humility and they berated themselves for their own previous ignorant presumption, unknowingly placing themselves above a bishop. They showed their sorrow by replacing their previous abuse of him with respect. But those holy men, eminent in virtue, admonished him, not without reverence, that it was not fitting that he should seek his

History

Evidence ID

E06326

Saint Name

Iustus/Justus, bishop of Lyon, ob. c. 390 : S02411 Antiochus, bishop of Lyon (early 5th c.) : S02786

Saint Name in Source

Iustus Antiochus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

390

Evidence not after

460

Activity not before

380

Activity not after

450

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Lyon

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Lyon Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Public display of relics

Source

This is the shorter of the two recensions of the Life of Justus published in AASS (BHL 4599). For the longer (BHL 4600) see E07406, and for the recently discovered vita antiquior, see E07453. The different versions of the text Two versions of the Life have long been known, a shorter version (BHL 4599), presented in this entry, and a slightly longer version, the vita prolixior as it is styled in Acta Sanctorum (BHL 4600). Both are preserved in similar numbers of manuscripts (9 and 12 respectively) and in manuscripts of similar age, with the oldest in both cases dating from the 10th century (Isaïa 2012, 15). The main difference between the two is that the Vita prolixior begins with an introductory passage hailing Justus as a peaceful martyr (for which see E07406). There are a few additional details in the Vita prolixior (the fact that Justus left his see after returning from a church council in Italy, the name of a place where he stayed at the beginning of his journey); conversely some elements only appear in the vita brevior (the reference to a ninety-year-old priest and the comparison of Justus and Moses, both in vita brevior 4). In general, however, the content in both versions of the Life is the same. The Bollandist editor, J. Stilting, believed that the shorter version was the older, and the vita prolixior was a later, expanded adaptation, a view which effectively went unchallenged until 2012, when Marie-Céline Isaïa published a third version of the text (Isaïa 2012, 26-30) based on two manuscripts in Paris: BnF lat. 12612, fol. 21v-23r (13th c.), and BnF lat. 5308, fol. 7v-8v (12th/13th c.). This does not includes the introductory passage to the vita prolixior, but otherwise contains all the elements of the story that appear in either of the two existing versions, as well as some that appear in neither. Isaïa argued that both the vita brevior and vita prolixior were adaptations of this text, each omitting some things, but in the case of the vita prolixior also adding the introductory passage. Isaïa concluded that this recension, which she calls the vita antiquior, is the oldest extant version, but not the original, since even this version contains anomalies which suggest it was reduced from a longer exemplar. For full discussion see Isaïa 2012, 15-18. The most significant passage to be clarified by the discovery of the vita antiquior occurs in § 5 of the vita brevior, which makes the odd statement that when Antiochus, the priest from Lyon who visited Justus in Egypt, eventually succeeded him as bishop, he did so 'undeservedly' (nunc immerito ... pontificii culmen assumptus sit). This is usually emended to 'not undeservedly' (non immerito). However, the corresponding sentence in the vita antiquior shows that the phrasing in the vita brevior is a garbled truncation of a statement by the author of the Life that he (the author) had undeservedly become bishop of Lyon, in succession to both Justus and Antiochus (nunc immeritus ... ad eiusdem pontificii culmen assumptus sum), a conventional statement of modesty (Isaïa 2012, 17-18). This also provides definite evidence that the Life was a product of the church at Lyon, composed by one of Justus' successors. Date of composition In reference books it is generally stated without further discussion that the Life was written shortly after Justus' death (see e.g. Clavis Patrum Latinorum, 3rd ed., p. 695; ), which is not securely dated but is generally given as c. 390. This view has sometimes been challenged (Marilier 1960 dated the text to the 9th century), but until recently there seems to have been no attempt to examine carefully the evidence for the date of composition. The first modern attempt to do so was by Brigitte Beaujard (Beaujard 2000, 105-6), who argued that the Life must have been composed after the appearance in the early 5th century of Rufinus' Latin translation of the History of the Monks in Egypt (for the original, see E03558), since it refers to the desert fathers Macarius and Paphnutius, who were unknown in the Latin world before Rufinus' translation. She also suggested that the Life is influenced in its portrayal of desert monasticism by the Conferences of John Cassian, whose publication in the mid 420s would therefore set a terminus post quem. However, the parallels she identifies between incidents in the Life and in the Conferences are very general and lacking in precise detail. The vita antiquior text edited by Isaïa shows that the original version of the vita was written after the death of Antiochus, by an author who was himself bishop of Lyon (Isaïa 2012, 18). This is compatible with a date in the early 5th century: after the death of Justus in around 390, five bishops are recorded in the episcopal lists for Lyon (Alpinus, Martinus, Antiochus, Elpidius and Senator, none of whom can be dated precisely) before the next well-documented bishop, Eucherius, takes office in the 430s. A Life written after the death of Antiochus could therefore have been composed as early as the 420s. As the author of numerous literary works, including hagiography (the Passio Acaunensium Martyrum, E06108), and as someone who, according to John Cassian (Conferences 11-17, preface), had himself wanted to become a monk in Egypt, Eucherius would seem to be the most obvious candidate for authorship, but in the current state of research this remains speculative; the author could have been one of his predecessors or successors.

Discussion

There is no absolutely certain attestation of Justus of Lyon from his own lifetime, but it is generally accepted that he is the Bishop Justus, of an unnamed see in Gaul, who took part in the Council of Aquileia in September 381 (Acta concilii Aquilensis 1, 15, 56; CSEL 82/3, pp. 325-7, 335, 360), and probably the Bishop Justus, also of an unnamed see, who took part in the Council of Valence in 374 (CCSL 148, p. 37). If so, it implies that he had been bishop of Lyon since the early 370s. An otherwise unidentified Justus who received two letters from Ambrose of Milan has often been identified as Justus of Lyon, including by the editors of the most recent edition of the letters: Ambrose, Letters 1 (ed. O. Faller, CSEL 82/1, pp. 3-14) and 55 (ed. M. Zelzer, CSEL 82/2, pp. 77-83). For full details see the entry on Justus in PCBE 4 ('Iustus 2', p. 1089), and for an attempt to assemble other possible information about him, see Isaïa 2012, 9-13. Given his presence at the Council of Aquileia, Justus' departure from his see to become a hermit in Egypt could have taken place no earlier than the end of 381. Neither Justus' departure from his see nor the return of his body to Lyon are attested in any source earlier than the Life. His cult was certainly in existence in Lyon within a century of his death, since the celebration of one of his feast days is described by Sidonius Apollinaris (E06705). The Martyrologium Hieronymianum includes five feast days for Justus: 14 July for his death (natalis - E04881), 4 August for the arrival of his body from the desert (adventus corporis de heremo - E04907), 2 September for his burial (depositio - E04939), 14 October for the translation of his relics (translatio - E04986), and 21 October, on which Justus was celebrated together with his companion Viator (E04993), perhaps the anniversary of Viator's death. Some of these feasts are not attested except in the Martyrologium, and the commemoration of Justus eventually became fixed as a single feast on 2 September (Février et al. 1986, 27). For an account of the church at Lyon where Justus was buried, see E06705. This was probably not the church mentioned in the Life (where Justus gave refuge to the man who had stabbed several people in a fit of insanity, and from which he then gave the man up when a crowed threatened to burn the church down), which is more likely to have been the cathedral. Antiochus, the priest who visited Justus in Egypt, eventually, after two intervening bishops, succeeded him as bishop of Lyon. Antiochus has his own feast in the Matryrologium Hieronymianum on 13 August (E04917), but no other details are known about his life. Veneration of Justus' companion Viator is not attested except in the single entry that he and Justus share in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum.

Bibliography

Editions: Acta Sanctorum, Sept. I, 373-374 Isaïa, M.-C., "Histoire et hagiographie de saint Just, évêque de Lyon," Hagiographica 19 (2012), 1-30 (pp. 26-30). Further reading: Beaujard, B., Le culte des saints en Gaule: Les premiers temps. D'Hilaire de Poitiers à la fin du VIe siècle (Paris, 2000). Février, P.-A. et al., "Lyon," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule, vol. 4: Province ecclésiastique de Lyon (Lugdunensis Prima) (Paris 1986), 15-35. Isaïa, M.-C., "Histoire et hagiographie de saint Just, évêque de Lyon," Hagiographica 19 (2012), 1-30. Marilier, J., "Giusto vescovo di Lione," Bibliotheca Sanctorum 7 (Rome, 1960), 31-32.

Continued Description

own reward with the sin of others and that he should not seek the gain of his own humility through a loss for the others present. Hence it has long rightly been said in the spirit of prophecy: ‘Failings, who knows (them)?’ [Ps.18:12/Vg.19:12]4. I have myself met that holy presbyter, almost ninety years old at the time, who told me these things; his words had the ring of sacred truth. He related that he had lingered for a long time in those parts of the desert. He had not only seen Justus, of most blessed name, but had also enjoyed his friendship. He said he stood out, even among those great lights which shone at that time in the desert for their revelations and miracles: those such as the saintly Macharius, Pafnutius and others, the fame of whose holiness flourished throughout the East. Our Justus shared their way of life; constantly fasting and praying, day and night, standing in the presence of the Lord as an ever-watchful protector of the people of Lyons. He was absent from their sight, but he was present to them through his beneficial prayers. Nor had he left them to whom indeed he gave himself back in intercession. He had sought out places suitable for tears, so that, emptying himself for the Lord alone, he might procure more effectively what he sought for his people. Justus therefore acted, just as once Moses contended in prayer against Amalech, raising up his unwearied hands to heaven. In that remote vantage point, just like Moses sitting on the open hillside, a dangerous conflict with the ancient foe was concealed. With Justus always having his hands intent on prayer, Wisdom would furnish help in the war against the devil and supply victory through his prayers.5. At the same time that Justus was tarrying in the desert, the holy man Antiochus, at that time a priest in Lyon, stirred by a sense of piety, decided to travel to see his bishop. (Antiochus, a man of outstanding austerity who now after a lapse of time has undeservedly become bishop of Lyons also.) When, in his desire to visit the great bishop, Antiochus was travelling across land and sea, the venerable Justus is said to have foretold his arrival, to the extent of predicting on which days he would reach certain places, saying ‘today our beloved Antiochus is waiting in such and such a place’, which was subsequently confirmed when he reached that place that Justus had predicted he would. After several years living a life in the desert akin to that of the angels, a fitting end for Justus’ mighty labours drew near, one promising the kingdom of heaven. At the final moments of the migration of his sacred soul, Viator stood at his side, weeping and distraught and said, ‘to whom, master, do you leave me?’ Justus is said to have replied that Viator should not be upset and think himself bereft of consolation, since he would be following him shortly. This prophecy and revelation, it is agreed, was fulfilled by the swift decease of the most holy youth.6. In the matter of his glory I shall not pass over in silence the thanks of the people of Lyon; having brought back his holy remains, he cast his protection over the holy citizens against the southern plague. They displayed the revered bones of the aged saint, brought back from a remote part of the world, with religious enthusiasm, taking them up with tears of joy. They laboured so that he who was already with them in spirit, might be with them in body also.'Text: AASS, Sept. I, 373-374. Translation: Philip Beagon.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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