Who Is Saint Apollonia

Do you know what is special about February 9? Have you ever heard of St. Apollonia? St Apollonia is the Patron Saint of Dentists and her Feast Day is February 9.

Saint Apollonia was one of a group of virgin martyrs who suffered in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians prior to the persecution of Decius. According to legend, her torture included having all of her teeth violently pulled out or shattered. The most reliable and contemporary historical account about St Apollonia is from Eusebius’ church history. Eusebius records a letter from Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, written around 249AD. In it we read that men seized Apollonia because of her Christian faith and “by repeated blows broke all her teeth.” Then a woodpile was built and the men “threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat after them impious words…Given, at her own request, a little freedom, she sprang quickly into the fire and was burned to death.

Because of the nature of the torture she endured rather than deny her faith, St Apollonia became the special intercessor for those with tooth troubles and, naturally, the patron saint of dentists and those suffering from toothache or other dental problems.

Surely this saint was much called upon for her prayers during medieval days, when the only real solution for an abscessed tooth was to pull it out – without anesthesia. The Church has quite a sense of humor! Apollonia is honored as the patron saint of dentists, but this woman who had her teeth extracted without anesthetic surely ought to be the patron of those who dread the chair. She might also be the patron of the aging, for she attained glory in her old age, standing firm before her persecutors even as her fellow Christians fled the city. However we choose to honor her, she remains a model of courage for us.

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