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Saint Apollinaris the Apologist
Feast Day: January 8th
Little is known of Saint Apollinaris’ life, but he enjoyed a high reputation as a teacher; his writings in defence of the Christian religion were produced mainly during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161–80) and are in the line of those of Justin the Christian philosopher. He was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia and became famous because of his polemical treatises against the heretics of his day.
Only extracts survive, but he was highly praised by Eusebius, Jerome and others. Their titles were ‘Defence of the Faith’, ‘Against the Pagans’, ‘On Truth’ and ‘On Easter’. Much of his task was to refute libels and errors, with accusations of immorality and atheism. The Christians of Lyons (some of them future martyrs) wrote a famous letter, included by Eusebius in his History of the Church, which details the accusations and the local persecutions.
Saint Apollinaris apparently took a too lenient view of Marcus Aurelius and the efforts of the Apologists did not lead to any significant diminution of persecution. He was however an important witness of Christian belief and practice at a critical time in the Church's history.