By Christina Hermoso
Tomorrow, February 9, is the feast day of Saint Apolonia, the patron saint of dentists.
Devotees of the revered saint will gather today at the Santa Cruz Parish Church in Sta. Cruz, Manila for a special commemorative mass at 9 a.m. in celebration of her feast day.
The image of St. Apolonia has been enshrined at the Sta. Cruz Parish since 1962. Members of the Philippine Dental Association and devotees traditionally gather annually at the church for a holy mass on her feast day.
Venerated in many parts of the world as a holy martyr, St. Apolonia is often invoked by those with dental problems and those involved in the dental profession. Catholic dentists commonly display an image or a portrait of their patron saint in their dental clinics.
According to accounts of her life by St. Dionysius, St. Apolonia endured horrible punishments for her refusal to renounce her Christian faith. In one instance, all her teeth were said to have been knocked out after she received a severe blow on her face. After she was threatened with fire, she voluntarily jumped into the flames while professing her undying love and commitment to Christ.
In ancient art, St. Apolonia is depicted with a golden tooth pendant or with pincers holding a tooth. (Christina I. Hermoso)