ST. APOLLONIA AND THE MARTYRS OF ALEXANDRIA.
FEAST DAY: FEBRUARY 9TH
St. Apollonia, an aged virgin, was the most famous
among the martyrs. Her teeth were beaten out; she was led outside the city; a
huge fire was kindled, and she was told she must deny Christ, or else be burned
alive. She was silent for a while, and then, moved by a special inspiration of
the Holy Ghost, she leapt into the fire and died in its flames. The same courage
showed itself the next year, when Decius became Emperor, and the persecution
grew till it seemed as if the very elect must fall away. The story of Dioscorus
illustrates the courage of the Alexandrian Christians, and the esteem they had
for martyrdom. He was a boy of fifteen. To the arguments of the judge he
returned wise answers: he was proof against torture. His older companions were
executed, but Dioscorus was spared on account of his tender years; yet the
Christians could not bear to think that he had been deprived of the martyr's
crown, except to receive it afterward more gloriously. " Dioscorus," writes
Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria at this time, "remains with us, reserved for
some longer and greater combat." There were indeed many Christians who came,
pale and trembling, to offer the heathen sacrifices. But the judges themselves
were struck with horror at the multitudes who rushed to martyrdom. Women
triumphed over torture, till at last the judges were glad to execute them at
once, and put an end to the ignominy of their own defeat.
AT Alexandria, in 249, the mob rose in savage fury against the Christians. Metras, an old man, perished first. His eyes were pierced with reeds, and he was stoned to death. A woman named Quinta was the next victim. She was led to a heathen temple and bidden worship. She replied by cursing the false god again and again, and she too was stoned to death. After this the houses of the Christians were sacked and plundered. They took the spoiling of their goods with all joy.
REFLECTION.óMany Saints, who were not martyrs, have longed to shed their blood for Christ. We, too, may pray for some portion of their spirit; and the least suffering for the Faith, borne with humility and courage, is the proof that Christ has heard our prayer.