November 1st is All Saints’ Day, and I can think of no better time of year to recognize one of my favorite saints: St. Apollonia. As the patron saint of dentistry, St. Apollonia serves as a welcome refuge for those suffering from dental pain, particularly toothaches. As a dentist, I often call upon St. Apollonia as a source of continuing inspiration and strength as I provide my patients with the dental care they need.
The account of St. Apollonia’s life was written by Dionysius (then the Bishop of Alexandria) and relayed to Fabian, the Bishop of Antioch. Dionysius recounted the story of Apollonia, an aged deaconess, whose refusal to renounce her faith resulted in her torture and eventual death at the hands of her persecutors. After having all of her teeth forcibly removed, Apollonia whispered a prayer and committed herself to the flames of her attackers.
In her final moments, Apollonia serenely and voluntarily brought an end to the torture inflicted by Emperor Philip’s mobs, even as they continued to demand that she forsake her God. Her martyrdom has since been seen as a testament to her heroic faith, and she is invoked and remembered fondly by millions, particularly those in the field of dentistry.
In my practice, I like to emphasize the importance of maintaining an environment that is balanced, harmonious, and imbued with positive energy. Recognizing and honoring St. Apollonia’s enduring spirit is just one way that I strive to do this every day.