Justina of Padua

(c. 300)

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virgin and martyr. She was one of the many victims of persecution in the Roman Empire, probably under Maximian, but little is known of her life and death. In the 6th century a church was dedicated to her in Padua, while Venantius Fortunatus, who had seen her depicted in the Ravenna mosaics, ranked her among the most notable saints of her time: by making Padua famous, she had done for her town the same as Euphemia for Chalcedon and Eulalia for Merida.

In the 10th century the monastery attached to her church was extremely generously endowed with property within the province, protected by papal and imperial privileges. In the eleventh it was reformed according to the Rule of St Benedict and acquired considerable relics including some claimed to be of Luke the evangelist. Following the destruction of the basilica by earthquake in the early 12th century, Justina's relics were translated in 1117. At this time a legendary Life was written, supposedly based on information given by Prosdocimo, first bishop of Padua and a disciple of St Peter.

After some years of decline the monastery was reformed again by Lodovico Barbo from 1408 onwards. It became the centre of the reformed Cassinese Congregation of St Benedict's Order. Justina was their patron and they rebuilt her church lavishly from 1521 till 1587. Feast: 7 October.

AA.SS. Oct. III (1770), 790–826; Anon., ‘Passio S. Iustinae martyris Patavii’, Anal. Boll., x (1891), 467–70; A. Barzon, ‘S. Giustina vergine e martire di Padoua’, Boll. Dioc. di Padoua, xxxiv (1949), 269–314; Bibl. SS., vi. 1345–49.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) — Christianity.

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