Apollinaris the Apologist

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Bishop of Hierapolis (2nd century). Little is known of his 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. 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. 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. Feast: 8 January.

Eusebius, H.E. 4, 27 and 5,19;B.L.S., i. 55–6;O.D.C.C., 85–6.

Subjects: Christianity.

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