April 2009 - St. Justin
Justin Popovich was born in Serbia on the Feast of the Annunciation 1894, to a family whose seven previous generations had been headed by priests. He began reading the scriptures at a young age, and as an adult carried a New Testament with him, reading three chapters every day.
He studied at the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade and In 1914, he completed the nine-year seminary program. He desired to become a monk, but postponed entry into the monastic ranks due to the outbreak of war and the poor health of his parents. He spent the war caring for his parents and serving as a medic.
In 1915 he was tonsured a monk and traveled to Russia to study at the seminary in Petrograd. He then attended Oxford University from 1916 to 1919 doing doctoral studies. He then transferred to the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Athens and received his Doctorate.
He was ordained to the diaconate in Greece and to the priesthood in Belgrade in 1922. Father Justin's preaching, writing and spiritual counsel quickly became known throughout his country. In 1931 he was sent to Czechoslovakia to help in reorganizing the Orthodox Church there. Realizing the people's crying need a clear exposition of the Faith, he began in 1932 his three-volume Dogmas of the Orthodox Church. The first volume was so well-received that Fr Justin was made Professor of Dogmatics at the Seminary of St Sava, where he remained; completing the Dogmas and several other books, until the end of World War II.
The new Communist regime in Yugoslavia banned him from teaching, and Fr Justin lived from that time on in various Serbian monasteries. In 1948 he entered Chelije Monastery, where he remained until his repose in 1979. He became Archimandrite and spiritual head of the Monastery. It was during this period that he emerged as a great light of Orthodoxy: pious believers from all parts of Yugoslavia, from Greece, and from all over the world traveled to hear the holy Justin's preaching and seek his counsel.
Saint Justin reposed in peace in 1979 at the age of 85, on the Feast of the Annunciation - the date of his birth. Since his repose, many miracles have been witnessed at his grave: healings, flashes of unearthly light from his tomb, and conversions of unbelievers by his prayers. His many writings are increasingly recognized as a fount of Orthodox teaching for our challenging times.