Apollonia was born in the 2nd century in Alexandria. Her father was aRoman magistrate who firmly believed in the religion of the state.Apollonia grew up into a beautiful maiden, good and pure. She was taughtby her mother about Jesus Christ and Christianity at an early age.
When she was older, she developed a strong desire to be baptised andserve God. An angel appeared and led her out of Alexandria into thedesert to the cell of Leonine, a disciple of Saint Anthony.
Baptism and Ministry
Apollonia told Leonine that she wanted to be baptised into Christianity.She was baptised and sent back to Alexandria to preach the Good News ofJesus Christ. She returned home full of joy and energy to preach theword of God. She preached with eloquence to the people who were hungryfor the Word. She won a lot of souls for Jesus Christ through herpreaching.
Apollonia’s father received complaints that his daughter was breakingthe law by preaching the gospel. She was reprimanded by her father, butshe refused to abandon her faith.
On February 9 the year 249, a mob attacked and captured Apolloniademanding that she abandon her faith. Emperor Phillip was on a missionto rid the empire of Christianity. The mob badly hit her face to such anextent that she lost all her teeth. She was ordered to leaveChristianity and worship pagan gods publicly or be thrown into the fire.
They kindled a big fire and threatened to burn her alive if she stood byher faith. She then jumped into the fire voluntarily to the surprise ofthe mob.
The fact that she died for her faith and beliefs led to peopledescribing her as a martyr. However, St Apollonia was not consumedentirely by the fire at Alexandria. Remnants of her head and teeth wererecovered from the ashes by her disciples. These fragments have beendistributed all over Europe with some bits and pieces reaching America.
The hand of St Apollonia is in the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria inTrastevere in Rome. San Basilio in Rome has preserved the jaw ofApollonia. Another jaw is kept at the church of Saint Anne de Beaupre,near Quelle.
Pieces of her teeth are held in churches at Naples, Volterra, Bologna.All Roman Catholic churches consider her remains to be sacred.
St Apollonia’s martyrdom resulted in many churches and altars beingdedicated to her. Catholics believe that she is the patroness ofdentists. Individuals suffering from toothache and other dental diseasespray to her so that she can intercede on their behalf.
The fact that she defied her persecutors at an old age, reflects thatshe was a courageous woman. Other Christians fled the city, but shefought her battle of faith till the end.
St Apollonia belongs to a class of early Christian martyrs. When theyare confronted with the choice between renouncing their faith orsuffering death, they voluntarily embrace their death.
Apollonia spent her whole life serving God and even at her old age shewas determined to spread the gospel. She dared to risk her lifecomforting imprisoned Christians.
In Roman Catholic art, paintings of St Apollonia are visible on stainedglass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms ofChristian art. These representations reflect the life or death ofsaints.
St Apollonia is represented in the art with a pair of pincers holding atooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. This shows theway that she died, hence Catholics view her as the patron of dentists.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Apollonia
- Her image is the side support of the arms of the British Dental
- In art, she is often represented with pincers in which a tooth is
held. Ancient art depicts her with a golden tooth at the end of
- In some parts of Europe, Catholics believe that fasting and prayer
on the day of St Apollonia’s celebration(February 9), guarantees
a toothache free year.
- St. Apollonia is observed as the patron of dentists because all her
teeth were knocked out for refusing to renounce her faith in
- Her greatest sacrifice was that of her own life as she jumped free
from captors and jumped willingly into the burning fire.
Prayer to St. Apollonia
Glorious Apollonia, patron saint of dentistry and refuge to all thosesuffering from diseases of the teeth, I consecrate myself to thee,beseeching thee to number me among thy clients. Assist me by yourintercession with God in my daily work and intercede with Him to obtainfor me a happy death. Pray that my heart like thine may be inflamed withthe love of Jesus and Mary, through Christ our Lord. Amen. My God,bring me safe through temptation and strengthen me as thou didst our ownpatron Apollonia, through Christ our Lord. Amen.