Saint Apollinaria of Egypt

The renowned Apollinaria (Απολλιναρία) lived during the reign of Leo the Great (‎457–474), and was the daughter of Anthemius, a former proconsul of Rome during the minority of Theodosius the Younger (408-450). Saint Apollinaria was renowned for her beauty and wisdom, as well as for her fervent faith and whole-hearted devotion to Christ. From a young age she was inclined to live a life of virginity, and she prayed to God night and day that she might achieve her desire, which was to remain a virgin until death. For this reason she entreated her parents to let her go to Jerusalem. When they granted her permission, the blessed one took some male and female servants with her, as well as gold, silver and expensive clothes, and left for Jerusalem. There she distributed everything to the poor. After she venerated the Holy Places, she freed her servants, keeping just one old servant and a eunuch with her. With them, she went to Alexandria. Arriving there at a level and even place, she decided to rest a little from her weary journey. Slipping away from her servants, she changed into monastic garb and hid in a marsh, where she lived a life of asceticism for several years in strict fasting and prayer. One day, an angel appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to go to the monastery of Sketis, which was under the spiritual direction of Saint Macarius of Egypt (January 19), and to call herself Dorotheus. Saint Macarius accepted her as one of the brethren, and she quickly distinguished herself by her ascetical life.

Saint Apollinaria’s parents had another daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. They sent her to Saint Macarius at Sketis, who brought the afflicted girl to "Father Dorotheus." Through her prayers, and by divine grace, her sister was healed. Everyone wanted her to remain with them, but she bade all of them farewell and returned to her monastic cell. Soon, her sister was attacked by a violent demon, who made her appear to be pregnant. The demon spoke through the girl’s lips, saying that Dorotheus had forced himself on her. Her outraged parents sent soldiers to the monastery to find the monk who had defiled their daughter. Saint Apollinaria took the blame and accompanied the envoys to the home of her parents in Rome. There she revealed her secret to them, healed her sister, and returned to Sketis. She reposed in the year 470, and was found worthy to dwell in the heavenly abodes (John 14:2). Only after her death, as the monks were preparing her body for burial, was it discovered that “he” was actually a woman. The Saint was buried in a cave in the monastery church of Saint Macarius of Egypt.

Saint Apollinaria is commemorated on January 4 in Greek usage, while the Slavic churches honor her on January 5.