July 23, 2022: ST. APOLLINARIS
July 23, 2022: ST. APOLLINARIS, BISHOP AND MARTYR
The Lord settled with him a covenant of peace, and made him a Chief, that he may have the honor of Priesthood for ever.
O God, the rewarder of thy faithful servants, who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of blessed Apollinaris, thy Bishop: grant, we may obtain entire pardon of all our offences by his prayers whose memory we celebrate on this present festival. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Image Description: St. Peter sends St. Apollinaris to Ravenna to convert the city.
Ravenna, the mother of cities, invites us to-day to honour the martyr bishop, whose labours did more for her lasting renown than did the favour of emperors and kings. From the midst of her ancient monuments, the rival of Rome, though now fallen, points proudly to her unbroken chain of Pontiffs, which she can trace back to the Vicar of the Man-God through Apollinaris. This great Saint has been praised by Fathers and Doctors of the Universal Church, his sons and successors. Would to God that the noble city had remembered what she owed to St. Peter.
Apollinaris had left family and fatherland, and all he possessed to follow the Prince of the Apostles. One day the master said to the disciple: “Why stayest thou here with us? Behold thou art instructed in all that Jesus did; rise up, receive the Holy Ghost, and go to that city which knows him not.” And blessing him, he kissed him and sent him away. Such sublime scenes of separation, often witnessed in those early days, and many a time since repeated, show by their heroic simplicity the grandeur of the Church.
Apollinaris sped to the sacrifice. Christ, says St. Peter Chrysologus, hastened to meet his martyr, the martyr pressed on towards his King; but the Church, anxious to keep this support of her infancy, intervened to defer, not the struggle, but the crown; and for twenty-nine years, adds St. Peter Damian, his martyrdom was prolonged through such innumerable torments, that the labours of Apollinaris alone were sufficient testimony of the faith for those regions, which had no other witness unto blood. According to the traditions of the Church he so powerfully established, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove directly and visibly designated each of the twelve successors of Apollinaris, up to the age of peace.
The holy Liturgy devotes the following lines to the history of this brave Apostle:
Apollinaris came to Rome from Antioch with the Prince of the Apostles, by whom he was consecrated bishop, and sent to Ravenna to preach the Gospel of our Lord Christ. He converted many to the faith of Christ, for which reason he was seized by the priests of the idols and severely beaten. At his prayer, a nobleman named Boniface, who had long been dumb, recovered the power of speech, and his daughter was delivered from an unclean spirit; on this account a fresh sedition was raised against Apollinaris. He was beaten with rods, and made to walk bare-foot over burning coals; but as the fire did him no injury, he was driven from the city.
He lay hid sometime in the house of certain Christians, and then went to Ӕmilia. Here he raised from the dead the daughter of Rufinus, a patrician, whose whole family thereupon believed in Jesus Christ. The prefect was greatly angered by this conversion, and sending for Apollinaris he sternly commanded him to give over propagating the faith of Christ in the city. But as Apollinaris paid no attention to his commands, he was tortured on the rack, boiling water was poured upon his wounds, and his mouth was bruised and broken with a stone; finally, he was loaded with irons, and shut up in prison. Four days afterwards he was put onboard ship and sent into exile; but the boat was wrecked, and Apollinaris arrived in Mysia, whence he passed to the banks of the Danube and into Thrace.
In the temple of Serapis the demon refused to utter his oracles so long as the disciple of the Apostle Peter remained there. Search was made for some time, and then Apollinaris was discovered and commanded to depart by sea. Thus he returned to Ravenna; but, on the accusation of the same priests of the idols, he was placed in the custody of a centurion. As this man, however, worshipped Christ in secret, Apollinaris was allowed to escape by night. When this became known, he was pursued and overtaken by the guards, who loaded him with blows and left him, as they thought, dead. He was carried away by the Christians, and seven days after, while exhorting them to constancy in the faith, he passed away from this life, to be crowned with the glory of martyrdom. His body was buried near the city walls.
Another account of St. Apollinaris.
St. Apollinaris was the first Bishop of Ravenna. Bede, in his true Martyrology, says that he sat twenty years, and was crowned with martyrdom in the reign of Vespasian. His acts say that he was a disciple of St. Peter, and made by him Bishop of Ravenna. Though their authority deserves little regard, this circumstance must be allowed, being agreeable to the time, and supported by other authorities. St. Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious among his successors, has left us a sermon in honour of our saint, in which he often styles him a martyr; but adds, that though he frequently spilt portions of his blood for the faith, and ardently desired to lay down his life for Christ, yet God preserved him a long time to his church, and did not suffer the persecutors to take away his life. So he seems to have only been a martyr by the torments he endured for Christ, which he survived at least some days. His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna, still a kind of suburb to that city, and its sea-port, till it was choked up by the sands. In the year 549 his relics were removed into a more secret vault in the same church, as an inscription still extant there testifies… St. Fortunatus exhorted his friends to make pilgrimages to his tomb, and St. Gregory the Great ordered parties in doubtful suits at law to be sworn before it. Pope Honorius built a church under his name in Rome about the year 630. It occurs in all Martyrologies, and the high veneration which the church paid early to his memory is a sufficient testimony of his eminent sanctity and apostolic spirit…
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. IV, Dublin, Edition 1901;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Apollinaris, pray for us.