Saint Apollonius the Apologist


Saint Apollonius's story can be found in four surviving documents - an actual record of the trail found in the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius of Caesarea, chapters in Saint Jerome's De Viris Illustribus and two versions of the Passio of Apollonius - a Greek and an Armenian. In all of the sources Saint Apollonius was an extremely talented and learned Roman senator who had converted to the Christian faith at an earlier point of his life. One of his servants betrayed him and informed the authorities that he was a Christian.


Saint Apollonius was quickly arrested and brought to the Praetorian Prefect Sextus Tigidus Perennis. Unfortunately, the servant who had brought this information to the Roman authorities was not rewarded, rather he was executed as an informer. In front of the Senate Saint Apollonius was ordered to either recant his faith or defend himself by trial. Saint Apollonius, ever the orator and philosopher, chose the latter.


During his trial Saint Apollonius spoke of the beauty of the Christian faith and laid out calmly and eloquently his reasons for his conversion. Remarkably, the senate only rarely interrupted his speech and allowed him to speak at length. At the end of this trial, Saint Apollonius stated that he was not afraid of his death, saying:


"There is waiting for me something better: eternal life, given to the person who has lived well on earth."


It is here that the sources diverge. In the Greek Passio, Saint Apollonius was martyred after having his legs crushed alongside the servant who informed on him. In the Armenian account he is put to death by beheading. Both sources agree on the date of his death - April 21st, 185 AD. Today his feast day is celebrated on April 18th in the Roman Catholic Church and on July 23rd in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Roman Martyrology reads:


At Rome, commemoration of Saint Apollonius, philosopher and martyr. Under the Emperor Commodus, he defended, before the Prefect Perennius and the Senate, the cause of the Christian faith in a finely argued address, and then, after being condemned to death, confirmed it by the witness of his blood
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