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Lifelong Catechesis

Forming Catholic identity across generations
February 22, 2019
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Ordinary Time

For a large part of the liturgical year, we devote ourselves to listening to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects unfolded as we seek God's truth and understanding.

Saint of the Week

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr, died 249

St. Dionysius wrote an account of the heavy persecution of Christians by the pagan populace in the city of Alexandria in the last year of the reign of the Emperor Philip. An enraged mob killed several older Christians who would not blaspheme God or worship the false gods. Many other Christians fled the city, leaving all of their possessions behind rather than renounce their faith. St. Dionysius noted that he knew of none who yielded to the pressure.

Among the Christians martyred at this time was Apollonia, a deaconess. The pagans first beat her severely, knocking all of the teeth out of her head. Then, dragging her out of the city, they lit a great fire and threatened to throw her into it unless she blasphemed God. Apollonia asked for a moment’s delay which, interpreted by the pagans as a sign that she was considering it, was granted. When she was freed, Apollonia threw herself onto the flames. While we, as Christians, believe it a sin to hasten one’s own death, St. Augustine was of the opinion that Apollonia was guided by the Holy Spirit in her action.

St. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists, is invoked against toothache and all dental diseases. In ancient art, she is often depicted holding a tooth in a pair of pincers or with a golden tooth hung from a necklace.

While this saint is no longer listed on the universal calendar of the Church, she is honored by dentists and others on February 9th.

Apollonia’s message today:  Standing up for one’s faith is easy only if that faith is strong. Faith will remain strong only if we ask God to give us the strength we need to face the many obstacles and temptations which cross our paths.

  • When times of trial occur in your life, do you turn first to God for help?