A middle-aged deaconess in Alexandria, Apollonia was martyred there when mobs roamed the streets torturing and killing Christians. Her death was described by St. Dionysius of Alexandria in a letter to the bishop of Antioch: “Next they seized the wonderful old lady Apollonia, battered her till they knocked out all her teeth, built a pyre … and threatened to burn her alive unless she repeated after them their heathen incantations.” She refused and jumped into the fire on her own. St. Augustine later said she must have been directed in this by the Holy Spirit. The patron of dentists, Apollonia is also invoked for toothaches and gum disease. U.S. dental societies and journals have taken her name.