Saint Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr
St. Apollinaris, c. 549 mosaic
detail of apse
Ravenna, church of St. Apollinaris
Saint Appolinaris, probably born in Antioch, is one of the great Christian martyrs of the first century. He was made Bishop of Ravenna by Saint Peter. The date of his consecration is not known, though he was bishop for twenty-six years. His preaching won many converts to the Christian faith; but his very effective evangelization led to his continual persecution, and he was repeatedly driven from Ravenna. Once he was found severely beaten and half dead on the seashore; and for a time he was concealed by the Christians. He was captured again and compelled to walk on burning coals, and he was again driven from the region. Despite this, he returned to Ravenna and continued his work of evangelization. Again he was captured, hacked with knives, had scalding water poured over his wounds, was beaten in the mouth with stones because he persisted in preaching, and then, loaded with chains, he was cast into a dungeon to starve to death; however, after four days he was put on board ship and sent to Greece. There he continued his preaching and miracles. His very presence caused the oracles to be silent, so he was beaten and sent back to Italy. After three years, he returned to Ravenna a fourth time. Vespasian (9-79 AD) was Emperor at this time, and in response complaints he issued a decree of banishment against the Christians. Apollinaris was kept hidden for some time; but as he was passing out of the gates of the city, he was set upon and savagely beaten. He lived for seven days, and foretold that the persecution of Christians would increase, but that the Church would ultimately triumph. It has been suggested that Apollinaris was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, but this is not certain.
[Based on the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia]
Direct your faithful, Lord, in the way of eternal salvation,
which the Bishop Saint Apollinaris showed by his teaching and martyrdom,
and grant, through his intercession,
that we may so perserve in keeping your commandments
as to merit being crowned with him.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16
"For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.
Gospel Reading: John 10:11-18
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
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