Apollinaris of Hierapolis

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Our father among the saints Apollinaris of Hierapolis, also Apollinaris Claudius or Apollinaris the Apologist, was Bishop of Hierapolis and apologist during the second century. His feast day is on January 8.


Little is known of his early life. Apollinaris was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, in Asia Minor. Eusebius, Jerome, Theodoret, and others spoke of him in the highest terms and furnished us with the few facts that are known about him. Apollinaris became famous for his polemical treatises against the heretics of his time, showing their errors to be borrowed from the pagans. He was prolific in his writings. He wrote two books against the Jews, five against the pagans, and two on "Truth". He may have been among those who were Quartodecimans who held that the date of Pascha must remain the fourteenth of Nisan. The date of Pascha was finally set at the First Ecumenical Council in 325. Except for a few extracts of his writings none of his writings has survived, the longest of which relates to the date of Pascha.

Among his writings Apollinaris wrote an "Apologia," that is a defense of Christianity, to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, appealing to the emperor's own experience with the "Thundering Legion", whose prayers won him the victory over the Quadi, a Germanic tribe. This event involved one of his legions, the twelfth, that was composed chiefly of Christians. The appeal was made to protect his flock against persecution by the emperor, imploring his protection by reminding him of the favor he had received from God through the prayers of the Christians soldiers.

This event occurred when the Roman army was greatly distressed for want of water as they approached battle. The soldiers of the twelfth legion fell upon their knees and called for the assistance of God. The result was sudden, as great quantities of rain fell. Thus replenished and aided by the storm, the Roman army fought on and conquered the Germans. As a reward the emperor gave the legion the name "Thundering Legion" and mitigated his persecution.

The date of the death of St. Apollinaris is not known, but it probably occurred about the year 175, before the death of Marcus Aurelius.

Succession box:
Apollinaris of Hierapolis
Preceded by:
Bishop of Hierapolis
Succeeded by:
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