Abba Justin in dyptich of Saints of the Orthodox Church
Justin Popovic (1894-1979) was an archimandrite of the Celije monastery, doctor of Theology,professor of the Belgrade University and spiritual elder. Blagoje Popovic, later father Justin, was born in Vranje on April 6 (March 25 after the Julian calendar) 1894 by father Spiridon and mother Anastasia. The Popovic family was pastoral through generations, only Blagoje's father Spiridon was just a sacristan.Blagoje was a youngest child, and he had an older brother Stojadin and sister Stojna.
In a nine-grade Belgrade Seminary he got many friends and with them he was a member of many theological, devotianal brotherhoods.
As a young theologian, Blagoje except fatherly works read mostly Dostoyevski. Brother Stojadin, as a Law student lost his life by accident, during one of his returns home from studies he fell from the train. Blagoje then started telling everyone that he wants to devote all his life to God in order to be close to Him and his brother.
His parents opposed his wish and was trying to prevent their child to become a monk.
Blagoje was drafted in "student unit" at the military hospital in Nish during the First World War, and later they along with the army and the clergy retreat across Albania. When they arrived in Skadar, Blagoje asked Patriarch Dimitrije to become a monk, so Patriarch blessed him and theologian Blagoje became monk Justin.
The authorities of that time transferred theologians in one ship to Barri, and then via Paris they arrived in London where they were accepted by hieromonk Nikolaj Velimirovic.From England where he was temporarily transferred with a group of theologians, he went to the Spiritual academy in Petrograd with a blessing of the Serbian Patriarch Dimitrije.
Because of forthcoming riots theologians were withdrawn to England.In England Justin studied theology at the Oxford and he supported himself and not by the scholarships of the English government.His critique of the Western world he presented in his doctoral thesis "Religion and Philosophy of Dostoevsky", which was not accepted.Without diploma he returned to Serbia in 1919. Patriarch Dimitrije soon after his return sent him to Greece. He was granted a scholarship of the Holy Synod. During one of his returns home, he was ordained a hierodeacon. In Greece, as well as in Russia and England, he learned about their people. He met an old Greek lady,his landlord who impressed him a lot. He said that he learned from her more than on the whole University. As hierodeacon he often served in Greek temples.
In Athens he got a doctorate of theology. The Holy Synod suddenly withdrawn the scholarship given to him, just before he got his doctorate. He had to depart to Serbia in 1921 and to become a teacher of the Seminary in Karlovac Seminary. He taught the Holy Scripture of the New Testament, Dogmatism and Patrology. Here he was ordained a hieromonk. Later he became an editor of the Orthodox journal "Christian life."His famous articles were from "the editorial desk." He was a severe critic also of some irregularities among the clergy of the Orthodox Church in theological schools. In the Karlovac Seminary (to which he was moved in the meantime) someone stole his doctoral thesis on gnosiology of St.Isaac the Syrian and St. Macarius the Egyptian.
But in a few days he wrote a similar thesis "Problem of personality and knowledge of the teaching of St. Macarius the Egyptian and he received his PhD in Athens in 1926. Soon after he was expelled from the Karlovac Seminary to Prizren, where he spent one year.
At that time on the West, in the Czech republic there was a movement that wanted to return to the Orthodox faith.Justin was appointed as an Assistant to Bishop Josif Cvijovic in the mission in Carpathian Russia. Soon the Holy Synod of Bishops decided to appointed him a bishop. He refused it and said he was unworthy of that. Later he was neither suggested nor appointed as a bishop.After that he became a professor of the Bitola Seminary. Together with the Serbian Orthodox Church bishops he fought against the introduction of Concordat to Serbia in 1936.
Since 1934 he was professor of Theology of the University of Belgrade. Together with Branislav Petronijevic he founded the Serbian Philosophical Society in 1938 in Belgrade. He also translated some theological and ascetic fatherly literature. After the outbreak of World War II, father Justin resided in many monasteries. Most time he spent in Ovcar-Kablar monasteries, in which he was arrested after the war by the communist government. After the imprisonment, he moved to the monastery Celije near Valjevo. He came in Celije in 1948 with the blessing of Bishop Symeon of Sabac-Valjevo and mother heugomene Sarah.
About the life of father Justin in Celije, there is much to say. Was constantly persecuted, interrogated, arrested by the authorities. There were few who stood in his defense. They were sisters of Celije led by mother heugomene Glikerija, Reverend Aleksandar Todorovic - parish priest from Lelic, abba's students and other admirers ...
Justin's father died at the same time on the same day when he was born , on the feast of the Annunciation April 7(March 25) 1979.