Saint Giustino de Jacobis

detail from an Italian holy card of Saint JustinAlso known as

  • Justin de Jacobis



Justin grew up a pious youth in the city of Naples, Italy and joined the Vincentians at age 18. Ordained on 12 June 1824 in the Congregation of the Mission. Noted for his preaching skills, especially among the rural poor. Helped found a Vincentian house at Monopoli, Italy. Superior at Lecce, Italy. Worked in with the sick in the 18361837 cholera epidemic in Naples.

Appointed Prefect, Vicar Apostolic, and missionary to Adua, Ethiopia on 10 March 1839, beginning the African missionary work that would consume the rest of his life. The people were primarly a combination of pagan, Islamic, and Coptic Christian, and foreigners were not welcomed by authorities, civil or religious. Justin learned the language, lived with the people, and worked to improve relations at the local level. He tried to have one of his monks appointed Patriach of the Ethiopian church, but failed.

Justin returned to Rome, Italy for consultations with the Pope Gregory XVI, trying (and failing) to get some of the Ethiopian religious leaders to come with him. In 1846 he returned to Ethiopia to found a college and seminary at Guala. This work, and other Catholic missionary efforts, caused a backlash in the Ethiopian Church; Catholicism was banned, and Bishop Massaia was forced to flee to Rome. Despite exhortations for his death, Justin remained, and became an underground missionary, caring for converts. Consecrated as titular bishop of Nilopolis and vicar apostolic of Abyssinia, Ethiopia on 6 July 1847. Given authority to administer the sacraments in the Ethiopian rite. By 1853 he had consecrated twenty priests, made 5,000 converts, and was able to re-open the college at Guala.

In 1860, Kedaref Kassa became the Ethiopian King Thedore II with the backing of Abuna Salama, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church. In gratitude, he prohibited Catholicism, and De Jacobis was imprisoned for several months. He was then force-marched to the area of Halai in southern Eritrea, spending his remaining months in missionary work along the Red Sea.

He is considered an apostle to Africa, and the founder of the Abyssinian mission. Blessed Ghebre Michael is among the estimated 12,000 converts he made in his time.



  • 31 July 1860 on the side of a road near Halai of a tropical fever in the valley of Alghedien Zula, Semenawi Keih Bahri, Eritrea while on a missionary trip
  • buried in a church at Hebo




Additional Information


God chose him to be a teacher even more by example than by words. Cardinal Messaia

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Giustino de Jacobis“. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 July 2020. Web. 14 June 2021. <>