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Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna

Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna (Απολλινάριος) was the first Bishop of Ravenna and a Martyr of the Early Church.

Very, very little known about Saint Apollinaris other than his time as Bishop. Tradition holds that he was born in Antioch (then part of the Roman Province of Syria) and was made Bishop of Ravenna by Saint Peter the Apostle. He began to immediately convert pagans in the city by large numbers and word soon spread of the many miracles he was performing. A group of pagans in the city captured him one night and left him half dead on the seashore after beating him terribly. For the next three years he would be arrested, beaten, and exiled only for him to find another way back into the city to help protect the Christians there.

The fourth time he returned to the city, however, fell under the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian. The local pagans petitioned the Emperor to have the Christians exiled, a petition that would be approved by the Emperor with glee. As they were departing the city, Saint Apollinaris was recognized and arrested. The Romans tortured him and beat him all while Saint Apollinaris told them the persecutions would worsen but Christianity would triumph. Only Jul 23rd of that year Saint Apollinaris was executed by stabbing.

His relics today are stored at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo and in the Benedictine Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe. King Clovis built a church dedicated to him in Dijon. His original feast day was celebrated on July 23rd, the date of his martyrdom, but was moved during the 1969 revision to make room for the celebration of Saint Bridget of Sweden. His memorial was restored to the General Roman Calendar in 2002 with the date of his celebration moved to July 20th.

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