St Apollinaris healing oil
The St Apollinaris healing oil is dedicated to the bishop of Ravenna in the 3rd century.
Apollinaris of Ravenna is a Syrian saint, whom the Church describes as “a bishop, according to tradition. He spread among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ. Also, he led his flock as a good shepherd and honoured the Church of by a glorious martyrdom.
According to tradition, he was a native of Antioch. As the first Bishop of Ravenna, he faced nearly constant persecution. He and his flock were exiled from Ravenna during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian. On his way out of the city he was identified, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword. Centuries after his death, he appeared in a vision to St Romauld.
Account of Apollinaris’ death
The early 20th-century Catholic Encyclopaedia rendered the traditional version as follows:
He was made Bishop of Ravenna, Italy, by Saint Peter himself. The miracles he wrought there soon attracted official attention. They and his preaching won many converts to the Faith. Also, at the same time it bringing upon him the fury of the idolaters. They beat him cruelly and drove him from the city. He was found half-dead on the seashore, and kept in concealment by the Christians, but was captured again and compelled to walk on burning coals and a second time expelled. But he remained in the vicinity, and continued his work of evangelization.
We find him then journeying in the province of Aemilial in Italy. A third time he returned to Ravenna. Again he was captured. He was hacked with knives and had scalding water poured over his wounds.Also, he was beaten in the mouth with stones because he persisted in preaching. Then he was flung into a horrible dungeon, loaded with chains, to starve to death.
St Apollinaris is martyred
After four days he was put on board a ship and sent to Greece. There the same course of preachings, miracles and sufferings continued. When his very presence caused the oracles to be silent, he was given a cruel beating. Then he was sent back to Italy. All this continued for three years, and a fourth time he returned to Ravenna. Vespasian was Emperor, and he issued a decree of banishment against the Christians. Apollinaris was kept concealed for some time. However, as he was passing out of the gates of the city, he was set upon and savagely beaten. He lived for seven days, foretelling meantime that the persecutions would increase. He promised that the Church would ultimately triumph. Apollinaris was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-six years.
Christian inscriptions dating from the 2nd century have been discovered near Claase. They confirm the presence of Christianity in Ravenna at a very early date. Thus, the epoch of Saint Apollinaris may be estimated as possibly to the last decades of the 2nd century. This places his martyrdom possibly under Emperor Septimius Severus.
A noted miracle worker, Saint Apollinaris is considered especially effective against gout, venereal disease and epilepsy
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.
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