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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 Apollinaris, Bishop and martyr, d. c. 79AD
Early writings about this saint are, in some cases, based on myth and, in others, confused with either a later saint or a heretic of the same name. As an early writer pointed out, however, Apollinaris’ reputation for holiness and miracles authenticated him as a bona fide saint.
Apollinaris is said to be a native of Antioch and a follower of Saint Peter. While no firm evidence exists to support it, some early writers have suggested that he was among the seventy-two sent out by Jesus (Lk10:1). In any case, he is said to have traveled with Saint Peter from Antioch where, sometime later, Peter ordained him as bishop and sent him to Ravenna.
Soon after his arrival, Apollinaris performed his first miracle when a Centurion asked him to cure his son who was blind. When Apollinaris made the sign of the cross on the boy’s eyes, his sight was instantly restored. Word of this miracle spread quickly through the city and, a day or so later, another senior Roman officer sought him out and asked him to cure his wife’s long standing illness. This he did.
Word of his miracles brought many people to Apollinaris for instruction and, soon, a Christian community was flourishing in the city. To serve this growing community, the bishop ordained priests and deacons.
Pagan priests, seeing the success that Apollinaris was having, aroused the people against him and caused him to be beaten to near death and left on the seashore. Christians in his community cared for him and nursed him back to health.
Sometime later, during the reign of the emperor Vespasian, Apollinaris was again arrested. This time he was stretched on a rack and plunged into boiling oil. When he survived this treatment, he was exiled to Illyria (present day Croatia) across the Adriatic Sea.
In his exile, Apollinaris evangelized many of the people of Illyria until, when an oracle ceased speaking, the pagans again beat him and put him on a ship returning to Italy. Soon he was seized and beaten again. He is said to have died from this treatment in the year 79AD.
Saint Apollinaris is the patron of those suffering from gout and epilepsy. An optional memorial honors him on July 20 in the United States (July 23 elsewhere).
Apollinaris' message today: Few of us have faith as strong as Apollinaris and might break down in the face of the trials that he faced, but God is always there for us.