St. Apollonia was an early Christian martyr who mocked her persecutors for trying to force her to renounce her faith.
We have a record of an early Christian bishop from Alexandria who wrote a letter recounting how Christians in that city had been persecuted. In the year 249, non-believers in Alexandria rioted against Christians, seizing them and attempting to force them to blaspheme against God. As Christians fled the city, leaving all their belongings, the crowd stoned an elderly man to death for refusing to renounce his faith. When another woman addressed their idols with scorn, they stoned her as well.
The mob grabbed Apollonia, an elderly deaconess, and beat her. They built a bonfire and threatened to throw her into it unless she blasphemed and renounced Christ. She asked for a few minutes to consider her choice, and when they released their hold on her for a moment, she lept into the flames on her own as a sign that she gave her life of her own free will.
St. Apollonia’s relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, and she is depicted in this mural there. She is patron saint against toothaches and dental diseases because she had her teeth knocked out when she was beaten up.
St. Apollonia, patron saint against toothaches, pray for us!