St. Apollonia

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Fransisco de Zurbarán, St. Apollonia, 1636
By NATALIE BEYER

Say you had a horrible tooth ache back in the day. The only way to treat said tooth ache was to pray to this lovely Saint painted here in hopes of getting some sort of relief.  Saint Apollonia, the Patron Saint of Dentistry, was martyred for not renouncing her faith under the reign of Emperor Phillip. According to "Catholic Online," Saint Apollonia's teeth were painfully knocked out by a Christian persecutor, and after being threatened to be burned at the stake if she did not renounce her faith, she voluntarily jumped into the flames. She dies in the year 249.

Saint Apollonia, painted by Zurbarán in 1636, wears a colorful dress and green shawl that rests over her shoulders. A flower crown tops her flawless, pink-blushed face and a bow wraps around her tiny waist. However, like most paintings of Saint Apollonia, she is holding an interesting item in her right hand. Looking into it closer, she is hold a pair of elongated pliers and ripped out tooth. Zurbarán's other Patron Saint paintings also include an item or body part of what makes the Saint special. Examples include his painting of Saint Lucy holding her scooped out eyes, or even his depiction of Saint Agatha with her...well...you get the point.

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