This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8 -- Feast of Saints Apollonius, Philemon, and others

Sts. Apollonius, Philemon, and Arianus
 Sometimes it takes the courage of others to guide one in proper conduct.  Garrison Keillor says that Powdermilk Biscuits give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.  At the risk of a little sacrilege, perhaps the Eucharist can do the same thing.  (Powdermilk Eucharist?  That's going too far.) 

The story begins with a Roman official in Alexandria, Arianus by name.  I'll call him a praetor but I am not sure of his exact title.  He seems to have been a persecutor of Christians.  He also seems to have had an affliction, perhaps even full blindness, in one eye.  If justice is blind, perhaps he was only half-just in his role as a judge.  The particular persecution seems to have gone down in the early years of Diocletian's reign -- not the full bloom of the Great Persecution, but quite plausibly the early run-up to it. 

Heavens, they're tasty and expeditious. 
Arianus had called in some folks for a pagan sacrifice.  It would require burning a little incense on the altar as well as enjoying a sacrificial meal, both of which were forbidden by Christianity.  A crypto-Christian named Apollonius asked an actor (singer, juggler, and jester -- an all-around performer) to swap clothes and stand in for him at the sacrifice.  Philemon, being a good guy, agreed to the swap without telling Apollonius that he too was a Christian.  He saved that announcement for Arianus. 

Apollonius, upon seeing Philemon get hauled off for an unhealthy dose of torture, recognized his failure to stand up for the faith.  He walked up to Arianus and confessed.  He too was quickly hauled off and tortured.  Apollonius and Philemon were executed together, and then their bodies were burned.  

Arianus was more impressed with the courage and dedication of these Christian martyrs than he wanted to show.  So too was Theoticus, the praetor's senior bodyguard.  When a bit of ash from Philemon's cremation got in the praetor's eye and healed it, he and Theoticus were both inspired to convert.  They sought instruction, accepted baptism, and then declared their faith publicly.  They too were executed, by drowning at sea.  Dolphins returned their bodies to the shore for proper burial.  

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