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.

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