top of page

The Catholic Defender: Saint Apollinaris

He was mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Apollinaris was born in Antioch, Turkey, and became the first bishop of Ravenna, in Italy. As such, he faced nearly constant persecution. He and his flock were exiled from Ravenna by Emperor Vespasian.

Apollinaris is the patron saint of Ravenna, and Emilia-Romagna. A noted miracle worker, Saint Apollinaris is considered especially effective against gout, venereal disease and epilepsy.

According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city.

was a Syrian saint, whom the Roman Martyrology describes as "a bishop who, according to tradition, while spreading among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ, led his flock as a good shepherd and honoured the Church of Classis near Ravenna by a glorious martyrdom."

It is not certain that he was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, as has been suggested, but he was apparently a disciple of Saint Peter, who may have consecrated and commissioned him as the first Bishop of Ravenna during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, the fourth Roman emperor from 41 to 54 A.D.

He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece.

Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.

Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.


bottom of page