Saint of the day 20150209

09 February

SAINT APOLLONIA
Virgin and martyr
and the Martyrs of Alexandria
(+ 249)

At Alexandria, in 249, the mob rose in savage fury against the Christians. Metras, an old man, perished first. His eyes were pierced with reeds, and he was stoned to death. A woman named Quinta was the next victim. She was led to a heathen temple and bidden worship. She replied by cursing the false god again and again, and she too was stoned to death. After this the houses of the Christians were sacked and plundered. They took the spoiling of their goods with all joy.

St. Apollonia, an aged virgin, was the most famous among the martyrs. Her teeth were beaten out; she was led outside the city, a huge fire was kindled, and she was told she must deny Christ, or else be burned alive. She was silent for a while, and then, moved by a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, she leaped into the fire and died in its flames.

The same courage showed itself the next year, when Decius became emperor, and the persecution grew till it seemed as if the very elect must fall away. The story of Dioscorus illustrates the courage of the Alexandrian Christians, and the esteem they had for martyrdom. He was a boy of fifteen. To the arguments of the judge he returned wise answers: he was proof against torture. His older companions were executed, but Dioscorus was spared on account of his tender years; yet the Christians could not bear to think that he had been deprived of the martyr’s crown, except to receive it afterwards more gloriously. “Dioscorus,” writes Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria at this time, “remains with us, reserved for some longer and greater combat.”

There were indeed many Christians who came, pale and trembling, to offer the heathen sacrifices. But the judges themselves were struck with horror at the multitudes who rushed to martyrdom. Women triumphed over torture, till at last the judges were glad to execute them at once and put an end to the ignominy of their own defeat.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Other saints: St Teilo
Teilo lived in the sixth century, studying under St Paulinus at Llanddeusant and, as a monk, with St David at Mynyw. He founded his own monastery at Llandeilo Fawr where he probably died. A later tradition has St Teilo, accompanied by St David and St Padarn, make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He spent some years in Brittany. At Llandaff he is venerated as founder of the see. See also the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
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