Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23: Our Lady on Saturday; St Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr, Memorial

c6th mosaic,
Basilica of St Apollinaris in Classe, Ravenna
 St Apollinarius was the first bishop of Ravenna, appointed by St Peter according to tradition.

One of the first great martyrs of the Church, his forthright preaching against paganism led to him being  was beaten up and left for dead on the seashore.  Although kept in hiding for a while by his fellow Christians, he was captured again and compelled to walk on burning coals and a second time expelled from the city. But he remained nearby, and continued to preach. 

When he returned to Ravenna a third time, he was captured, hacked with knives, had scalding water poured over his wounds, was beaten in the mouth with stones because he persisted in preaching, and then, loaded with chains, was flung into a horrible dungeon to starve to death; but after four days he was put on board ship and sent to Greece.

After three years of preaching there, he returned once more to Ravenna. At this time the Emperor Vespasian issued a decree of banishment for all Christians, and as the bishop was passing out of the gates of the city, he was set upon and savagely beaten, probably at Classis, a suburb, but he lived for seven days, foretelling meantime that the persecutions would increase, but that the Church would ultimately triumph.

The precise date of his consecration cannot be ascertained, but he was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-six years.

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