The Catholic Defender: Saint Apollonius the Apologist, Patron of Co-Workers
St. Paul in the New Testament would serve with nearly 100 co-workers who went proclaiming the Gospel around the known Roman world. In that number were two that would become future Popes, St. Linus and St. Clement of Rome. In the New Testament, we see St. Timothy and St. Titus who were appointed as Bishops by St. Paul. There were also several who traveled as laymen bringing the Gospel supporting St. Paul.
In the middle second century, an amazing talent within the Roman Senate emerged proclaiming the Catholic faith in his personal life. He was a well educated man knowing the various philosophies of the time. Eventually Apollonius developed an interest in the Jewish scriptures. As he learned from the Old Testament writings, he next looked into the writings of St. Paul, the Gospels, and learned from faithful men of the time. He made the decision to be Baptized into the Catholic Faith.
History notes that St. Apollonius would take on heresies within the Church like Montanus and two of his followers, Maximilla and Priscilla. These were claiming the Holy Spirit was telling them the end of the world. St. Apollonius defended the rightful authority of the Catholic Church against these apostates such as Themison and Alexander who adored himself as a god.
In the course of time, a slave accused St. Apollonius of being a Christian which was against Roman Law. As a result, the Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis arrested him and brought him to trial. Because he was well respected within the Roman Senate, Perennis pleaded with St. Apollonius to renounce his Catholic faith. He even tried to bribe the Saint to lie about his faith, that the trial was looking to release him and maintain his influence and power in the world. But St. Apollonius would have none of that.
St. Apollonius ended up standing before the Roman Senate, a very hostile crowd against the Church. St. Jerome wrote of St. Apollonius admiring his eloquence and his knowledge base of the faith. Despite his excellent discourse, he was going against a stacked deck with no chance.
St. Apollonius said to the Senate after they condemned him to death, "There is waiting for me something better: eternal life, given to the person who has lived well on earth." By decree of the Senate, St. Apollonius was either beheaded (Armenian account) or another source (The Greek Passio) says he died after having his legs crushed. Maybe he had his legs crushed before they beheaded him? His death was on 21 April 185.
Of the Slave who turned St. Apollonius over to the Roman's for being a Christian, I'm not sure of his motivation. If he thought he would receive a reward of some kind, perhaps his freedom, I'm not sure, but at any rate, he was put to death for being an informant. Probably not what he was expecting. Marcus Aurelius, during his reign, had published an edict ordering that the accusers of Christians be put to death, but he had done so without repealing the former laws against convicted Christians. Thus the slave was immediately condemned to have his legs broken and be put to death.
St. Apollonius account is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology as follows: At Rome, commemoration of Saint Apollonius, philosopher and martyr. Under the Emperor Commodus, he defended, before the Prefect Perennius and the Senate, the cause of the Christian faith in a finely argued address, and then, after being condemned to death, confirmed it by the witness of his blood.
What a great example in Christian history of such a brave convert who would give his life for Christ and His Church. Today St. Apollonius is part of that Great Cloud of Witnesses that prays for us. St. Apollonius, pray for us.