I can only imagine that, had she lived today, those would have been some of the last words uttered by St. Apollonia (Feast day Feb. 9), our featured saint on Saintly Sundays this week. At least, that’s how I paraphrased the version of her life and death that appears in my go-to book for basic, day-to-day hageography, Lives of the Saints, Illustrated, when I read it to some of my nieces the other day. Turns out, she’s the patron saint of dentists. Think about that for a moment. Now, take a wild guess as to what happened to her. Go ahead. Guess. Can’t figure it out? “Well I’ll tell you…”
St. Apollonia was a deaconess (cool, right?) who lived during the persecution of Decius, during the 200s. After spending most of her life being seriously awesome in the way of caring for orphans and the homeless and poor, and basically, being Christ’s hands on earth, she was caught up in an angry mob who were hell bent on destroying anything even remotely reeking of the Church. While they had her, not only was she beaten, and kicked, and punched, spat upon, too, I imagine (I have an active imagination, especially where the Saints are concerned), she then…wait for it…wait for it…had her teeth knocked out. Ouch. Did you guess right? I bet you did. You seem like a smart one.
Anyways, after all of that, they decided to take her out (and I don’t mean on a date). Being the kindly martyr-makers they were, they decided to offer her a choice: either worship some pagan gods, or be burned to death. She asked for a few minutes to mull it over. Turns out this was just a ploy to buy some time, because, as soon as the fire they had started grew large enough, she broke away from her captors and ran toward the flames, diving in head first. Seems she had already made her decision. When given the choice of denying Christ or having her skin seared, there was no question in her mind at all. Fiery death? Bring it. Torturous pain? Bring it. Meeting Christ face to face that much sooner? BRING IT.
And so, I seriously believe that those may have been her last thoughts, in today’s vernacular at least. I feel like that should become a motto for Catholics living in the world today. Getting dirty looks at the check out line because you refuse to buy a March of Dimes bootie? Bring it. Being told you’re heartless for not donating to Susan G. Komen? Bring it. Refusing to stand by while the first amendment rights of all people are being attacked by Barry O. and his policies? Bring it. Being looked at as a freak for constantly railing on and on about the evil that is abortion? BRING IT. Maybe, if we’re lucky, and we really do adopt this attitude, when we finally meet Christ at our own judgment, He’ll tell us, “It’s already been brought. Now get in here, My good and faithful servant.” At least, that’s how I picture it. Like I said, I have a crazy active imagination when it comes to things like this.
So now I want to know, what saint inspires you to want to “bring it”?
And don’t forget to check out (The Infant of) Prague Blog, where my brother gives far more scholarly (and still quite amusing) accounts of the Saints on an almost daily basis.