The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned.
While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their
worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds
beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and
threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged
them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests.
Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered
There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the
patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other
dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair
of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her
necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or
her own death.