The Hieromartyr Apollinaris, Bishop of Ravenna.


During the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54), the holy Apostle Peter came to Rome from Antioch, and he ordained the Antiochene Apollinaris, who had come with him, to be bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in Ravenna as a stranger, Saint Apollinaris asked shelter of a local inhabitant, the soldier Ireneius, and in conversation with him revealed also for what purpose he had come. Ireneius had a blind son, whom Saint Apollinaris healed, having turned to the Lord with prayer. The soldier Ireneius and his family were the first in Ravenna to believe in Christ. The saint stayed at the house of Ireneius and preached about Christ to everyone wanting to hear what he said. One of the miracles of healing, done by Saint Apollinaris, was the healing of the incurably sick wife of the Ravenna tribune, Thecla. After she stood up from her bed completely healthy – through the prayers of the saint, not only did she believe in Christ, but so also did the tribune. At the house of the tribune Saint Apollinaris constructed a small church, where he made Divine Liturgy. For the newly-baptised people of Ravenna Saint Apollinaris ordained two presbyters – Aderetus and Calocyrus, and also two deacons.

Saint Apollinaris preached the Gospel at Ravenna for twelve years, and the number of Christians steadily increased. Pagan priests made complaint against the bishop to the governor Saturninus. Saint Apollinaris was brought to trial and subjected to grievous tortures. Thinking that he had died, the torturers took him out of the city to the sea-coast and threw him in. But the saint was alive. A certain pious Christian widow rendered him aid and gave him shelter in her home. Saint Apollinaris stayed at her home for six months and continued secretly to preach about Christ. 

The whereabouts of the saint became known, when he healed the loss of speech of an illustrious resident of the city named Boniface, at the request of his wife, who besought the help of the saint for her husband. After this miracle many pagans were converted to Christ, and they again brought Saint Apollinaris to trial and tortured him, setting his bared-feet on red-hot coals. They removed him from the city a second time, but the Lord again kept him alive. The saint did not cease preaching until they expelled him from the city. 

For a certain while Saint Apollinaris found himself elsewhere in Italy, where as before he continued to preach the Gospel. And again having returned to Ravenna to his flock, Saint Apollinaris again went on trial and was sentenced to banishment. 

In heavy fetters he was put on a ship sailing to Illyrica to the River Dunaj-Danube. Two soldiers were responsible to convey him to his place of exile. Three of the clergy voluntarily followed their bishop into exile. Along the way the vessel suffered shipwreck and all drowned, except for the rescued Saint Apollinaris, his acompanying clergy and the two soldiers. The soldiers, listening to Saint Apollinaris, believed in the Lord and accepted Baptism. 

Nowhere having found shelter, the travellers came to Mycea, where Saint Apollinaris healed a certain illustrious inhabitant from leprosy, and for which both he and his companions received shelter at his home. 

In this land Saint Apollinaris likewise preached tirelessly about Christ and he converted many of the pagans to Christianity, for which he was subjected to persecution on the part of unbelievers. They beat up the saint mercilessly, and boarding him on a ship sailing for Italy, they sent him back. 

After a three year absence, Saint Apollinaris returned to Ravenna and was joyfully received by his flock. The pagans, however, having fallen upon the church where the saint made Divine Liturgy, scattered those at prayer, and dragged the saint to the idolatrous priests in the pagan temple of Apollo, where the idol fell just as they brought in the saint, and it shattered. The pagan priests brought Saint Apollinaris for trial to the new governor of the district, named Taurus. Apollinaris worked here a new miracle – he healed the son of the governor, who had been blind from birth. In gratitude for the healing of his son, Taurus strove to shelter Saint Apollinaris from the angry crowd. He dispatched him to his own estate outside the city, where the son and wife of Taurus were baptised, but he himself fearing the anger of the emperor did not accept Baptism, but conducted himself with gratitude and love towards his benefactor. 

Saint Apollinaris lived for five years at the estate of Taurus and preached without hindrance about salvation. During this time pagan priests dispatched letters of denunciation to the emperor Vespasian with a request for a sentence of death or exile of the Christian “sorcerer” Apollinaris. But the emperor answered the pagan priests, that the gods were sufficiently powerful to take revenge for themselves, if they reckoned themselves insulted. 

All the wrath of the pagans fell upon Saint Apollinaris: they caught hold of him when the saint left the city setting out for a nearby settlement, and they beat him fiercely. Christians found him barely alive and took him to the settlement, where he survived for seven days. 

During the time of his pre-death illness the saint did not cease to teach his flock and he predicted, that after persecution Christians would enter upon better times, when they could openly and freely confess their faith. Having given those present his archpastoral blessing, the Hieromartyr Apollinaris expired to the Lord. Saint Apollinaris was bishop of Ravenna for 28 years and he died in the year 75.