How Apollonia Became the Patron Saint of Dentists

A fable:

In the last year of the reign of the Emperor Philip, the Christians of Alexandria were being set upon by the heathen population of the city.  The Christians offered no resistance but betook themselves to flight, abandoning their goods without complaint because their hearts had no ties upon earth.  So great was their constancy that none renounced Christ, even under barbaric and repeated tortures.

Apollonia, who is described in the historical record as “an aged Deaconess,” was seized.  With blows in the face the heathen knocked out all her teeth and then, kindling a great fire outside the city, they threatened to cast her into it unless she uttered certain impious words.  She begged for a moment’s delay then, as soon as she found herself free, leaped into the flames of her own accord.

To account for her action in thus anticipating her death, St. Augustine supposes that she acted by a particular direction of the Holy Ghost, since it would not otherwise be lawful for anyone to hasten his own end.  She is invoked against toothache and all dental diseases, and her more common attributes in art are a pair of pincers holding a tooth, or else a golden tooth suspended on her necklace.

Source:  Kanlaon’s Book of Saints

Self is thinking of St. Apollonia now because, naturally, she has a toothache.

2nd Thursday of April 2011: “The Pacific” (Disc 3), More Looking Back

This morning, self worked two and a half hours nonstop at the Writing Center.  She had a student look up the word “nonconsensual” in the Center’s huge, six-inch-thick, hardbound copy of the Merriam Webster dictionary to check whether it had a hyphen (It didn’t).  She read law papers, she read psychology papers.  She worked with a student who was writing a paper on the theme of “Innocence” in three works by Mark Twain.

Now that she’s back home, she’s watching Disc 3 of HBO’s “The Pacific.”  It’s much more intense, these episodes, than the ones on Disc 2.  One of her favorite characters gets put out of commission.  But she’s getting to like another character, a newly arrived recruit from Mobile, Alabama who bears a resemblance to the young Steven Spielberg.  There is one crazy G.I. who seems to have wandered in from the set of “Apocalypse Now.”  The two episodes on Disc 3 focus on the savage battles on Peleliu, a tiny speck of land out there in the middle of the Pacific, whose importance to U.S. naval strategy self can only guess at.

Self also decided to take a look back at some of her pictures from her last trip home.  Here are two that she took from the second floor of Rockwell.  It was Chinese New Year.  She had just finished lunch with Carla and Judy at Cibo.

Chinese New Year, Rockwell, February 2011

Rockwell, Chinese New Year, February 2011

Tonight, self’s going to head to Stanford to watch Frieda Lee Mock’s documentaries on Maya Lin and Lt. Watada (Watada was the first U. S. commissioned officer to refuse assignment to Iraq).  The first documentary is about an hour and a half, the second is almost an hour.  Then there’s going to be Q & A.  The screenings are free and open to the public.  Location:  Annenberg Auditorium (in the Art Department building) on the Stanford campus.  The event starts at 6:30 pm.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Iain Kelly

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