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Claudius Apollinaris was born in Turkey, Europe. He was appointed bishop of Phyrgia, Ravenna and his episcopal term lasted for 26 years, in Phrygia and became famous for his polemical treatises against the heretics of his day, whose errors he showed to be entirely borrowed from the pagans. In 177 he published an “Apologia” for the Christians, addressed to Marcus Aurelius, and appealing to the Emperor’s own experience with the “Thundering Legion”, whose prayers won him the victory over the Quadi. The exact date of his death is not known, but it was probably while Marcus Aurelius was still Emperor. He was said to have passed away in the late 2nd century.

Claudius Apollinaris was one of the most illustrious prelates of the second age. Notwithstanding the great encomiums bestowed on him by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, and others, very little is known of his actions, and his writings, which then were held in great esteem, seem now to be all lost. He wrote many able treatises against the heretics, and pointed out, as St. Jerome testifies, from what philosophical sect each heresy derived its errors. Nothing rendered his name so illustrious, however, as his noble apology for the Christian religion which he addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, about the year 175, soon after the miraculous victory that the prince had obtained over the Quadi by the prayers of the Christians.

St. Apollinaris reminded the emperor of the benefit he had received from God through the prayers of his Christian subjects, and implored protection for them against the persecution of the pagans. Marcus Aurelius published an edict in which he forbade any one, under pain of death, to accuse a Christian on account of his religion. By a strange inconsistency, he had not the courage to abolish the laws then in force against the Christians, and, as a consequence, many of them suffered martyrdom, though their accusers were also put to death. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on the 8th of January.

Many accounts portray him as to have passed away as a martyr, others that he was the disciple of St, Peter and others suggest that he was from Antioch. He was, at one point, removed from the roster of saints, in the liturgical reforms after the second Vatican council but was later restored in 2002’s edition of the Roman Missal. St. Apollinaris the Apologist is the patron saint of Ravenna, Italy.


Eternal God, in the extraordinary lives of your appointed ones who, living with zeal and courage, gave up their lives for the honor of their God and their faith, Saint Apollinaris, is one, of whom we know little about, except what is most important.

Having been ordained to participate in the richness of the priesthood of Christ, he gave witness to the faith that your people memorialized, spreading among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ, leading his flock as a good shepherd, and honoured the Church of Classis near Ravenna by a glorious martyrdom. Help us to lead lives that are equally deserving of honor and commemoration in Jesus’ Name. Amen

Saint Apollinaris, pray for us! 

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