St. Apollonia was a holy virgin who suffered martyrdom in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians in the early 3rd century.
During festivities commemorating the founding of the Roman Empire, a mob began attacking Christians.
The great Dionysius, then Bishop of Alexandria (247-265), related the sufferings of Apollonia:
Men seized her and, by repeated blows, broke all of her teeth. Then they erected a pile of sticks outside the city and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat impious words after them (either a blasphemy against Christ, or an invocation of the heathen gods). When she was given a little freedom, at her own request, she sprang quickly into the fire and was burned to death.
Apollonia belongs to a class of early Christian martyrs who when confronted with the choice between renouncing their faith or suffering death, voluntarily embraced the latter.
She is popularly invoked for toothaches because of the torments she had to endure. She is represented in art with pincers holding a tooth.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
…people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment… He took him off by himself…put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. Mark 7:32
This healing story resonates in a new way for me in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The details of Jesus’ method of curing the man have a stark physicality. That stands out for me now when our physical selves are particularly threatened. An amazing outcome in the chaos of this crisis: it is as if Jesus’ “Ephphatha!” has somehow sounded. As the infections and deaths increase worldwide, words of protest against racial injustice everywhere have been spoken plainly, and many ears opened to hear their truth. Dear God who made us all, in this health crisis, help us realize our true equality with one another and respond with respect and warmth.