09 Feb Saint Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr
Today is the feast day of Saint Apollonia. Ora pro nobis.
from the Liturgical Year, 1904
The holy Virgin who this day claims the homage of our devotion and praise, is offered to us by the Church of Alexandria. Apollonia is a Martyr of Christ; her name is celebrated and honoured throughout the whole world; and she comes to us on this ninth day of February, to add her own example to that which we have so recently had from her Sister Saints, Agathy and Dorothy; like them, she bids us fight courageously for heaven. To her, this present life was a thing of little value, and no sooner does she receive God's inspiration to sacrifice it, than she does what her would-be executioners intended doing,–she throws herself into the flames prepared for her. It is no unusual thing, now-a-days, for men that are wearied of the trials, or afraid of the humiliations, of this world, to take away their own lives, and prefer suicide to the courageous performance of duty: but Apollonia's motive for hastening her death by a moment's anticipation was, to testify her horror of the apostacy that was proposed to her. This is not the only instance we meet with, during times of Persecution, of the Holy Spirit's inspiring this lavish sacrifice, to saintly Virgins, who trembled for their faith or their virtue. It is true, such examples are rare; but they teach us, among other things, that our lives belong to God alone, and that we should be in a readiness of mind to give them to him, when and as He pleases to demand them of us.
There is one very striking circumstance in the martyrdom of St. Apollonia. Her executioners, to punish the boldness wherewith she confessed our Lord Jesus Christ, beat out her teeth. This has suggested to the Faithful, when suffering the cruel pain of tooth-ache, to have recourse to St. Apollonia; and their confidence is often rewarded, for God would have us seek the protection of his Saints, not only in our spiritual, but even in our bodily, sufferings and necessities. (4)
The Church celebrates her memory on February 9, and she is popularly invoked against the toothache because of the torments she had to endure. She is represented in art with pincers in which a tooth is held. There was a church dedicated to her at Rome but it no longer exists. The little square, however, in which it stood is still called “Piazza Sant' Apollonia”. (1)
Image: Saint Apolonia, artist: Artemisia Gentileschi, circa 1642-1644 (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff