Saint Apollonia: The Iconography

FEBRUARY 9

Apollonia is the only saint whose attribute is a tooth-extractor, so she is easy to identify in paintings. Often the extractor has a tooth in it. The reason is that the first thing her tormentors did during her passion was to knock her teeth out. They then built a huge pyre and threatened to throw her on it if she did not join their worship of idols. Determined to do nothing of the sort and disdaining even to undertake the torments they had in store, she threw herself into the fire and died.

Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

HOME PAGE

SHOWN ABOVE:

Fresco in the Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio. See the description page.

OTHER IMAGES:

Detail from Girolamo dai Libri, Madonna and Child with Saints, 1520 – See the description page.

Detail from Vincent de Kastav's frescos in Beram, Croatia, 1474 – See the description page.

DATES

  • St. Apollonia is said to have died during the persecutions of Decius in 249.

HAGIOGRAPHY