Saint of the Day – 8 January – Saint Apollinaris the Apologist (Died 2nd Century) Bishop of Hierapolis, Apologist, Confessor, Defender of the True Faith against heretics, Writer, renowned Scholar. Also known as – Apollinaris Claudius, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, Claudius Apollinaris, Apollinare di Gerapoli. Additional Memorial – 7 February on some calendars.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Hierapolis in Phrygia, in today’s Turkey, Saint Apollinaris, Bishop, who shone under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius for doctrine and holiness.”
He lived in the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and was undoubtedly one of the most important prelates in Asia. He became famous for his polemical treatises against the heretics of his day, whose errors he showed to be entirely borrowed from the pagans.
Notwithstanding the great eulogies bestowed on Saint Apollinaris by Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Theodoret and others, little is known of his acts and his writings, which then were held in great esteem, are apparently all lost, just a few fragments remaining for our edification. . He had written many excellent treatises against the heretics and pointed out, as Saint Jerome testifies, the pagan sect from which each heresy derived its errors.
Nothing rendered his name so illustrious, however, as the noble apology for the Christian religion which he addressed to the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius about the year 175. This was spoken soon after the miraculous victory the Emperor obtained over enemies, through the prayers of the Christians. Saint Apollinaris reminded Marcus Aurelius of the benefit he had received from God through the prayers of his Christian subjects and implored protection for them, against the persecutions of the pagans. Marcus Aurelius published an edict in which he forbade anyone, under pain of death, to accuse a Christian on account of his religion but, by a strange inconsistency, he did not have the courage to abolish the laws then in force against the Christians. As a consequence, many of them continued to suffer martyrdom, though their accusers were also put to death.
The exact date of St Apollinaris’ death is not known; but the Roman Martyrology mentions him today.