Apollonia, St. (of Apollo) (third century) In Christian legend, patron of dentists and their patients. Feast, 9 February. The life of the saint is recorded in The Golden Legend, a collection of saints’ lives written in the 13th century by Jacobus de Voragine. Apollonia was the daughter of rich parents in Alexandria, Egypt. She was a virgin “far advanced in years” and noted for her “chastity, purity, piety and charity.”
All of these virtues, however, did not deter a pagan mob from attacking her house because it was a refuge for Christians. Apollonia was dragged out, and the mob began “tearing out all her teeth.” When that was done the saint was burned. In a variant account of her life she was killed with a sword. In Christian art St. Apollonia is usually shown with a pair of pincers, occasionally holding a tooth. One work, ascribed to Piero della Francesca, portrays the saint holding her symbol and looking quite determined if not angry.
Taken from the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante