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Saints This Month-18 April: St. Apollonius the Apologist

Sunday, April 18, 2010
As Britain prepares for a general election it seems apt that the feast of St. Apollonius falls within the month-long political circus that precedes polling day. Apollonius was an eminent citizen of second-century Rome and a member of the Senate. He was well versed in philosophy and was a respected member of the Roman elite. He developed an interest in the Jewish scriptures and this led him to Christian writings. He was inspired by his reading to be baptised. During this period the Emperor Commodus had informally halted the persecution of Christians, out of regard for his Empress Marcia, who was an admirer of the Faith. Nevertheless the laws of his father Marcus Aurelius, who had persecuted Christians, had not been repealed.

One of Apollonius' slaves publicly accused him of Christianity and the the praetorian prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him. Perversely the slave was immediately condemned to have his legs broken, and to be put to death, as the anti-Christian edict of Marcus Aurelius ordered that the accusers of Christians should also be put to death.

Apollonius was summoned before the Senate to defend himself. Due to his standing if he had denounced the charge and Christ he would have been set free. His fellow senators expected him to take such action. However instead of recanting, he defended the Christian faith and took the opportunity to give the whole court a reasoned apology of his Christian faith, in a moving and direct summary of the entire Christian creed. He argued that Christianity surpasses paganism, through the salvific work of Jesus Christ, the revealing Word of God and teacher of moral life, who became man to destroy sin by his death. Apollonius said that Christ's death was prophesied both by Scripture and by Plato.

Apollonius was condemned by a decree of the Senate, and beheaded about the year 186. His heroic defence of the truth is an example to civil leaders throughout the world. With his fortune, position and life at risk he refuse to be pressured into submission. All too often in Britain we see politicians reject the common good because of fear of losing votes, of being isolated by the party leadership or of losing donations. Let us pray that this coming election will return to the Commons , members who are prepared to stand and defend the truth and the common good.

Mark Davoren


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