Apollonia vs. Zenaida

In yesterday’s Clash of the Consonants,  Gobnait stung Hrotsvitha 66% to 34% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen. She’ll face the winner of Paula of Rome vs. Marcella of Rome.

Here at Lent Madness, we like to say we cover the saints from A to Z. Okay, we’ve never said that. But if we did, today’s matchup would be Exhibit A (to Z). Because we have Apollonia vs. Zenaida — two early Christian followers of Jesus — and, in the saintly world, you don’t get much more A to Z than that!


Apollonia was a Christian martyr, killed in a local uprising in Alexandria, in the year 249 ce. Scant information is to be found about her life, but her death is well-documented. Historians note that the reign of Philip the Arabian was not the most tranquil for the Roman Empire. During the celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of Rome in 248, a crowd arose in Alexandria that was overcome with nationalistic feelings. In their fervor, they began attacking local Christians as traitors to the emperor.

Dionysius, the local bishop, wrote a letter to Bishop Fabius of Antioch, documenting the attacks; the letter later became part of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, which provides an account of the development of early Christianity. Dionysius describes a general panic in the city, with Christians fleeing to safety if they have the means. Apollonia, however, does not flee and is attacked by an angry mob who punch out all her teeth. The crowd then threatens to burn her alive if she does not echo their denunciation of Christ. Thinking quickly, Apollonia asks to walk a little ahead of her captors, in order to think about her choices, and when they let her go, she throws herself into the fire. She dies rather than give up her faith.

While the story of Apollonia is unfamiliar to us today, it is significant that Dionysius describes Apollonia as “parthénos presbytis.” It can be literally translated as “elder virgin” and seen as a descriptor of Apollonia’s agedness or an explanation for why she didn’t flee the city. Some modern scholars also think the term may denote ordained leaders of the early church. It is therefore possible that Apollonia was an early ordained leader martyred for her faith.

In art, Apollonia is depicted holding a pair of pincers in which a tooth is held. She is the patron saint of dentistry and those who suffer from toothaches because of her unfortunate dental torment right before her death. Her relics are located at the church that bears her name in Rome, as well as in Antwerp, Brussels, Mechlin, and nearly every other major city in Europe. Devotion to Saint Apollonia and fascination with her tooth-healing abilities was widespread during the Middle Ages, perhaps because of the sad lack of flossing.

Collect for Apollonia
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Apollonia, triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with her the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Megan Castellan


Zenaida and her sister Philonella were born of a Jewish family in the city of Tarsus around 100 ce. They were baptized into the faith following the evangelism of their brother Jason. They are known in the Orthodox Church as the earliest female physicians to follow Saint Luke in their ministry of the sick, and they were known as “unmercenary” healers, refusing to take payment from their patients for their services.

Like many early saints and biblical figures, little is known about Zenaida. She is thought to come from a well-educated Jewish family with ties to Paul the Apostle. Her brother Jason was one of the first bishops of the church in her native city of Tarsus. Truly, Zenaida and Philonella were descendants of the first members of Christ’s church. They could be considered Christian royalty, if you will. We can also deduce Zenaida was intelligent and well-educated, as she attended formal schooling to study medicine.

Upon completion of her studies, Zenaida and her sister moved their practice to the mountains of Pelion in Thessaly. The area was well-known for catering to the rich and affluent members of society, and Zenaida and her sister were expected to serve only those who could pay for their services. Bucking the prevailing attitudes of society, Zenaida and her sister opened their practice to all, refusing payment and serving the lowliest of the low. They implemented practices that were based in modern scientific principles of medicine and confronted healers in the area who tried to make money off of superstitious amulets and phony charms.

Zenaida was particularly known for her care of children, those with depression, and psychiatric disorders. The sisters combined a love of medicine with the love of God and preached Christ’s love in concert with their healing practices. They believed that salvation in Christ brought some of the most significant healing to their patients. As a result of their ministry, the church named Zenaida and her sister as “Friends of Peace.”

Some accounts say that Zenaida and her sister were stoned to death, while some say they both died peacefully in service to God. Other accounts say Zenaida died after stepping on a nail.

Collect for Zenaida
Merciful God, whose most dear Son came to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and preach the gospel to the poor; Teach us by the example of your servant Zenaida to freely give even as we have freely received; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anna Fitch Courie

Apollonia vs. Zenaida

  • Zenaida (81%, 6,197 Votes)
  • Apollonia (19%, 1,446 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,643

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Apollonia: By Wolfgang Sauber [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Zenaida: By AnonymousUnknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

124 Comments to "Apollonia vs. Zenaida"

  1. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 21, 2019 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    Zenaida the generous physician
    Never charged, nor abused her position.
    She shunned medical cons
    And unmasked charlatans:
    So today I’m supporting her mission.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 21, 2019 - 8:46 am | Permalink

      “Charlatans”—now that’s a word to lift your hat to!

    • March 21, 2019 - 9:47 am | Permalink

      Good one, John. Zenaida makes me think of Dr. Susan Anderson, “Doc Susie” who practiced in the mountains of Colorado after being turned down by male dominated practices elsewhere.
      Doc Susie’s first patient was a horse who’d gotten tangled up in barbed wire, but after that she served her community for many many years.

    • kwsmarn's Gravatar kwsmarn
      March 21, 2019 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Of course, I had to read that as “charletahns” — being a bit OCD. Another gem.

  2. Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
    March 21, 2019 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    Our musical tribute is sung to the tune of “Dentist!” from “Little Shop of Horrors” which seems apt given the circumstances.

    When Phil was Caesar, Rome was not very chill.
    Mob scenes would break out leading folks to kill.
    Like what went down in Alexandria…
    They martyred our girl, Apollonia,
    An elder virgin, she could not go
    When things got ugly, yo!

    What happened next?

    A party for Rome’s Founding Day
    The mob held sway
    And decided to make Christians pay!

    They caught Apollonia (They caught Apollonia!)
    And then proceeded to punch out her teeth. (Ow!)
    Poor Apollonia! (Poor Apollonia!)
    And then they drove that poor girl to the breach. (To the breach)
    Her temperament’s right for a martyr;
    She burned so she won’t acquiesce.
    The Patron of dentists –
    A saintly success!

    Here’s Zenaida! (We went from A to Z!)
    Watch her heal for no pay. Oh, what gall!
    She’s a doctor and she’ll never ever charge any fees,
    Like a 1st Cent’ry Medicare plan for all.


    Poor patient: Oh, I’m sick. What do I owe?
    Zenaida: Just thank God I’m not your HMO.

    She was a doctor… (She was a doctor!)
    How she loved healing the poor – but no bills. (She loved it!)
    Embracing what’s modern… (She liked what’s modern!)
    Exposed the fake cures that won’t cure your ills. (She really loved it!)

    She shared God’s love as an assurance. (God love her)
    Never denied care for no insurance. (Do-oc-tor)
    When Z saw patients who were in distress,
    She told them: Somewhere in heaven above them,
    Take comfort to know that Christ Jesus does love them.

    Praise Jesus!

    She was a doctor.
    A saintly success!

    To Apollonia: Say ow!
    Apollonia: Ow!

    To Zenaida: Say ah!
    Zenaida: Ah!

    To both: Say ow! (ah!)
    Apollonia/Zenaida: Ow! (Ah!)

    Now, VOTE!

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 21, 2019 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      Hilarious!! A stroke of genius, choosing that song was!

    • Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
      March 21, 2019 - 8:54 am | Permalink

      So clever and apt!!!! I look forward to your songs every morning!

      • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
        March 21, 2019 - 10:38 am | Permalink

        This A goes with Zenaida.

    • Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
      March 21, 2019 - 9:45 am | Permalink

      That’s a number 1 hit!

    • Isabelle Melese-d'Hospital's Gravatar Isabelle Melese-d'Hospital
      March 21, 2019 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      Brilliant song today!! But then again, you’re amazing that way, Michael W.!! Huzzah!!

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 21, 2019 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Excellent! (I was thinking of the early Christian version of Medicare for all as well.)

    • Stephanie Schultz's Gravatar Stephanie Schultz
      March 21, 2019 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

      This made my day!

    • Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
      March 21, 2019 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely outstanding!

    • Robin Nicholls's Gravatar Robin Nicholls
      March 21, 2019 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

      “Just thank God I’m not your HMO” – priceless!

    • Linda's Gravatar Linda
      March 21, 2019 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

      You are a musical genius, Michael. Thanks for all of the show tunes.

    • Mary W. Cox's Gravatar Mary W. Cox
      March 21, 2019 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Oh, brilliant!

  3. March 21, 2019 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I am struck by the stories of saints who stay behind when the world is falling apart, from the sack of Rome to the Martyrs of Memphis. It is such a powerful witness of solidarity. Yet, today, I find Zenaida’s story more inspiring than Appollonia’s. I also have a few parishioners who are so devoted to community healthcare that is really making a difference in our area, so I see today’s vote for Zenaida as a vote for their ministry, too. Thank you for the opportunity to learn about to very fascinating ancestors in the faith!

    • Mark C Bigley's Gravatar Mark C Bigley
      March 21, 2019 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      Your reflections mirror mine. Apollonia gave it all the hard way. Yet Zenaida also gave all she had. I hate having to choose. Both moved me. One was not “better” than the other. Being bivocational, I chose to work in community mental health myself as an LCSW for many years. The Appalachian people are mostly invisible to the larger country but their poverty is similar to other cultures. Working with them was a joy most of the time. Their survivalist spirit is something to admire and they are one of the few cultures to be truly able to laugh at themselves. Now I see a few clients for cash for what they are able to pay for at least half the cost on a sliding scale. The insurance debacle and government meddling creates unaffordable mental health care for many and places excessive burdens on therapists.

  4. Amy C.'s Gravatar Amy C.
    March 21, 2019 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Friends of Peace, that nailed it for me.

  5. Debbie Northern's Gravatar Debbie Northern
    March 21, 2019 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Health care to all led me to Zenaida.

    • March 21, 2019 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I was at first drawn to Apollonia due to my own dental struggles, but finally had to admit Zenaida is indeed more deserving of a golden halo. Perhaps Apollonia could be awarded some golden dentures?

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 21, 2019 - 2:31 pm | Permalink


  6. Carolyn Mack's Gravatar Carolyn Mack
    March 21, 2019 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Not finding many of the saints this year very inspiring. Apollonia was going to burn anyway. Zenaida seems nice. Went with Zenaida. Hope they are saving the best of the stories for later rounds, which I wish they would not do since it probably results in uninformed voting.

  7. Janice Pauc's Gravatar Janice Pauc
    March 21, 2019 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Went with the doctor over the dentist

  8. Jane Christmas's Gravatar Jane Christmas
    March 21, 2019 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    I was touched by Apollonia’s barbaric end, but went with Zenaida for her generous, “unmercenary” healing. (That said, loved that pun about the “crown” of life in the collect for the patron saint of dentistry. At least, I hope it was an intentional pun.)

  9. Carolyn Albright's Gravatar Carolyn Albright
    March 21, 2019 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Zenaida, because I used to volunteer at Columbia Road Health Services, a medical clinic where anyone was welcome, and fees were based on your income. If you had no income, you paid nothing, but still received medical treatment and lots of love and care!

  10. March 21, 2019 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Love them both, but going with Zenaida since I’m a strong proponent of universal healthcare as a human right.

  11. Jerry Cappel's Gravatar Jerry Cappel
    March 21, 2019 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    As if “A to Z” weren’t bad enough, to add to the pain, in the collect for Apollonia, the patron saint of dentistry, we pray, “that we may receive with her the crown of life.” Yes, a gold crown, or several of them, if needed. May it be so.

    • Rev. Steve's Gravatar Rev. Steve
      March 21, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      Crown her with many crowns (Or at least golden halos. But that does not meter.)

  12. Tobu's Gravatar Tobu
    March 21, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    As the daughter of an amazing woman who shocked her small Midwestern hometown (and mother) by insisting on -becoming- a doctor in a time when the appropriate goal would have been to -marry- one, I had to vote for Zenaida. (And the joke was on the pearl-clutchers in the end, since she met my father in medical school and they shared a successful practice for decades. Why Not Both?)

  13. Jerry Rankin's Gravatar Jerry Rankin
    March 21, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Voted for Apollonia while waiting in the dentist’s office during my wife’s appointment. Asked Apollonia to be with her and comfort her.

    • March 21, 2019 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

      That sounds like an excellent idea. Wouldn’t want to get on Appolonia’s bad side, under the circumstances.

  14. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    March 21, 2019 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Zenaida because the picture is so much easier on the eyes.

  15. Susan C's Gravatar Susan C
    March 21, 2019 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    When I saw that Apollonia was popular in the Middle Ages, “perhaps because of the sad lack of flossing”, I laughed and was ready to vote for her. As a physician myself, Zenaida however won out because of her service to the poor and her practice according to the available scientific principles, and calling out of charlatans.

  16. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 21, 2019 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    I want to vote for Apollonia. I’ve been studying Luke for a year-and-a-half, and his admiration of widows (or elderly women) and his lifting them up as leaders in the early church seems to be what is reflected in Apollonia’s story. Plus I’m a huge advocate of flossing, and though I have obtained many crowns in my later years, I attribute that to lack of flossing in my early years.

    I am sad that she went to such a fiery and painful death.

    But I went with the whopping majority for Zenaida. Anyone who treats for free the indigent mentally ill people of the world has my vote here and in November.

    Plus, it gave me chills to think that she was a 2d generation Christian!

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 21, 2019 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      My sentiments exactly.

  17. Colleenrose's Gravatar Colleenrose
    March 21, 2019 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Living out their discipleship by service to the poor did it for me. I voted for Zenaida because that means I also get to acknowledge her sister Philonella. Kind of a 2 for 1 day!

    • Robin Bergh's Gravatar Robin Bergh
      March 21, 2019 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      So glad you mentioned her sister Philonella. With her sisters help they made quite a team.

  18. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 21, 2019 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Zenaida in prayer for and honor of those with psychiatric disorders and their families. Two millennia later, their healthcare needs are still woefully underserved and underfunded.

  19. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 21, 2019 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Tough choice as always. My sentiments went for Zenaida but I was married to a dentist for 47 years and thus voted for Apollonia.

  20. Sandy Warren's Gravatar Sandy Warren
    March 21, 2019 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Zenaida and her special care for those struggling with mental illness gets my vote.

  21. Blair Holbein's Gravatar Blair Holbein
    March 21, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I voted for Apollonia. Dentists definitely deserve a patron saint! Plus the cathedrals are full of images that we want to see in the next round! Even Andy Warhol painted her picture! (Google it!)

  22. kate's Gravatar kate
    March 21, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Since Apollonia’s saintly qualifications are having her teeth knocked out and basically committing suicide (jumping into the fire on her own) I went for Zenaida’s life long devotion to healing. Especially working with the mentally ill.

    Go Zenaida!!

    • Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
      March 21, 2019 - 10:51 am | Permalink

      OMG! This sounds like DJT’s dismissing the value of a certain same party war hero rival! W ‍♀️

      • Pat warson's Gravatar Pat warson
        March 21, 2019 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Please no politics, I gave up news for lent

  23. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 21, 2019 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Zenaida gets my vote today. My grandmother healed by faith and her knowledge of home remedies. Faith healing works and she did it for free. She was revered in the town where even today 51 years after her death people remember her healing ways.

  24. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 21, 2019 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    We voted for Z today, not only because she provided free medical care, as well as helping those with mental health issues. Especially poignant as one of our choir member’s 25 year old son, who suffered from depression, committed suicide and his funeral is tomorrow; they are very much in our prayers this day.

    • Cynthia Cravens's Gravatar Cynthia Cravens
      March 21, 2019 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

      So very sorry to hear of this suicide. Few things in life are as tough as when a beloved young person takes his own life.

      Christ be with his family, and your entire congregation.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 21, 2019 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Or an older uncle…. Prayers for all those who despair, and those who lose them….

  25. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 21, 2019 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I voted for Zenaida based on the account of her work as a physician, her care for those who could not afford treatment for their ills, and, in general, hers was a life given to service. The glimpse we have of Apollonia is the same glimpse we have of thousands of other Christians who had the misfortune to live in perilous times – she got beaten up and killed. Not a pleasant death, I agree, but what do we know about her before that dark day? If everyone who died for Christ before the Edict of Milan was issued sainthood would be cheap. Interestingly, Philonella, who is mentioned only in passing in Megan Castellan’s biography of Zenaida, is co-celebrated with her sister in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and they share October 11 as their feast day. In part, then, my vote for Zenaida is also a vote for Philonella.

  26. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    March 21, 2019 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Truly two amazing saints whose witness is relevant for us today in our own age of nationalism and for-profit health care. I had to go with Zenaida, because of her care for the very poor and those, like me, with mental illnesses. My church hosts ministries that provide health care to the very poor, the uninsured, and the homeless, so this is close to my heart.

    • Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
      March 21, 2019 - 10:55 am | Permalink

      I like you, Elaine. Thanks for sharing your tidbits, I found this all refreshing!

  27. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 21, 2019 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Oops, meant to say “If everyone who died for Christ before the Edict of Milan was issued became a saint, then sainthood would be cheap.”

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 21, 2019 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks–I’d forgotten about the Edict of Milan!

  28. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 21, 2019 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    Voting for Zenaida in thanksgiving for the wonderful NHS, offering free health care to all, and founded in Christian principles.

    • Cynthia Cravens's Gravatar Cynthia Cravens
      March 21, 2019 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Sigh. We, across the pond, when not agitating for our own affordable health care, can only look on in envy

  29. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 21, 2019 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    My vote for Zenaida is all on you, Anna Fitch Courie. I was all set to vote with Apollonia, thanks to my love of Eusebius and my fears that Medicare plus supplemental insurance won’t cover needed dental work when I came to your collect for Zenaida, the devout and generous phycian. It so perfectly summed up the prayers I’ve been offering this morning that I had no choice but to vote for the last (alphabetically) of this season’s saints!

  30. Virginia Knab's Gravatar Virginia Knab
    March 21, 2019 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    My involvement with the healing ministry drew me to Zenaida. However, I went with Apollonia. Her example and intercession for persecuted Christians today is needed. Also brought back memories of a wonderful statue of Santa Apolonia by Goler seen this summer at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, NM.

  31. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 21, 2019 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Zenaida for free health care. Anna Fitch Courie for her book review and because she uses those little sticky tabs to mark her favorite pages.

  32. Carol Oppel's Gravatar Carol Oppel
    March 21, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Tough vote today. Accomplished women (ordained leader) vs. physicians. Went with Zenaida, for her long life of ministry to the poor and mentally ill.

  33. Marcia A. Tremmel's Gravatar Marcia A. Tremmel
    March 21, 2019 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    My vote went to Zenaida today as I have seen so much suffering from mental health issues in children and adults.

  34. Mama J's Gravatar Mama J
    March 21, 2019 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Oh, dear! I remember sitting in my dentist’s chair and looking out his second floor window at the top of an electrical pole that made a cross. . . praying fervently to St. Apollonia that the visit would be short and sweet. (It often was not!) I was SURE she would get my vote today but thought I’d give Zenaida a cursory reading just to be fair. With so many young folks and others dealing with depression and health issues how could I not vote for Zenaida? Truly a woman for our times! (Apollonia, you are still in my prayers!)

  35. March 21, 2019 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    I always vote for the loonies and those who care for us.

  36. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 21, 2019 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    “Scant information is to be found about [Apollonia’s] life, but her death is well-documented.” “Little is known about Zenaida,” but apparently a whole lot more than about Apollonia; on the other hand, accounts of her death are all over the map. For me, what is reported about her life carries the day, for all the reasons mentioned above by others.

    Then, too, it is written that the last shall be first. True, “Z” is the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet; but, as we Anglicans know, the language of the Angli is also that of the Angeli. (With apologies to Gregory the Great.)

  37. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 21, 2019 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    All power to the zed. I vote for the early women physicians. I especially like that they treated the poor and attended to children with depression. I assume that means they drove out demons. Given today’s ghastly phenomenon of parents refusing to give their children vaccinations, with the most recent horror of the parents who refused to vaccinate their son for tetanus at a cost of $800,000 to the community to save his life–and they still refused to vaccinate him (some demons won’t be driven out)–I accept the story of Zenaida’s unfortunate nail in the sole as an exemplary lesson to get vaccinated. I shudder at Apollonia’s story, because it smacks too much of suttee: burning inconvenient single women. Sublimating the story by saying she voluntarily threw herself into the fire so as not to repudiate Christianity would be exactly the same if she didn’t repudiate Hinduism. So I’ll none of it. Humans have to stop burning women. I go for the women physicians today (without the “Christian royalty” theme, please; we are having enough problems with entitlement in our politics today). The Zed sisters for the win.

    • Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
      March 21, 2019 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much, St. Celia. These days, any woman who pushes back and refuses to do men’s bidding–religious or political–is considered “inconvenient.” Zenaida and her sister get my vote for a whole slew of reasons, their compassion and their skepticism chief among them. (And “Christian royalty” is an oxymoron that should be avoided!)

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 21, 2019 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

        “These days”?

  38. Susan Reeves's Gravatar Susan Reeves
    March 21, 2019 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Zenaida for me today. Her gift of healthcare for those in need who otherwise would suffer their illnesses because they were unable to pay falls right in line with my position that everyone deserves to have medical attention when needed.

  39. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 21, 2019 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    I need some dental intervention, so I’m with Apollonia.

  40. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 21, 2019 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    I think Apollonia threw herself into the fire because a) she knew it was inevitable that she was going to end up there under the circumstances & b) by throwing herself in, it prevented the nationalists from committing the sin of murder. Talk about loving your enemies.

    As for anyone apart from the King of Kings being called “Christian royalty” . . . as Christ our King said Himself, the first shall be last and the last shall be first in His Kingdom.

    I have rarely had any good dental experiences, so I’m voting for the physician who with her physician sister practiced medical care for all.

  41. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 21, 2019 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Zenaida ‘s life meets all that we strive to be as Christians. Nothing more to say except God bless Apollonia also. Funny thought , Apollonia I believe was the name of Micheal Corleone’ s first wife in Sicily in the movie, The Godfather.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 21, 2019 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Apollonia is her name. Unfortunately, she also meets a fiery end.

  42. March 21, 2019 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    But should you not be the Alpha to Omega of the saints? Or the Aleph to Tav?

  43. Katrina S Soto's Gravatar Katrina S Soto
    March 21, 2019 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Before reading the bios I assumed I would vote for Appolonia, since I worked as a dental assistant for many years. But, Zenaida’s story compelled me by her true calling to serve the needy. That will always be decider for me.

    • Katrina S Soto's Gravatar Katrina S Soto
      March 21, 2019 - 10:33 am | Permalink

      Sorry for mistyping Apollonia’s name. It’s early and my new glasses are not working so well !

  44. Mary Miers's Gravatar Mary Miers
    March 21, 2019 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Great and tough choices! Where can I report that my votes have not registered on my screen for three days now?

  45. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 21, 2019 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Zenaida. I have a family member recently released from her second go round in a psych hospital. Gotta go with the patron.

  46. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 21, 2019 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    No contest. I vote for the woman who defended science and reason against scam artists and hucksters and cared for the entire community.

    • Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
      March 21, 2019 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      I love the Madness fan who pointed to the heroics of Christians who stayed behind. I loved the neat connections Zenaida had to Paul (perhaps) and to Luke (well, do they say). I’m also amused that a physician, who did not charge, was in itself, a virtue that comemded one to sainthood.

  47. March 21, 2019 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    An apposite Collect for this patron of dentistry: “that we may receive with her the crown of life. . . .”

  48. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 21, 2019 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    As one who has suffered much from the care of dentists, I could easily have voted for Apollonia. However, the last part of my working life was spent as a hospital chaplain, often serving in the adult psych unit, and ministering to patients from both psych units when a nurse brought them to the services I led in the chapel. I have to go with Zenaida, in memory of my most-loved profession, and also of my grandmother and her mother-in-law, who were herb doctors and spiritual healers. I still live in healing prayer for all I hear of who need it. I am so grateful for Medicare, and for the Medigap insurance that picks up where that leaves off, who have treated my broken hip and other problems from that fall at very little expense to my husband and me. Note to those about to retire, or in retirement, DO take Medicare, and DO look for a reliable company for Medigap. It is really worth it, though not free.

  49. Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
    March 21, 2019 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    I choose to believe that Zenaida died after stepping on a nail. “Modern” as her 2nd century medicine was, she didn’t have a tetanus shot! But universal health care wins my vote for today.

  50. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 21, 2019 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    So good to learn about both these remarkable women! I am moved by Apollonia’s story, but find Zenaida irresistible, for all the reasons previous commenters have cited. Is her sister and partner a saint too? It sounds like she she should be.

  51. John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
    March 21, 2019 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    Having gone through some serious dental procedures recently, I have to vote for Apollonia. Had I known of her before the procedures, I would have prayed to her.
    I bet no medical insurance company would choose Zenaida as its symbol.

  52. Mary Jane C. Ingalls's Gravatar Mary Jane C. Ingalls
    March 21, 2019 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    I voted for Appollonia out of respect for my husband and his career in dentistry. I pray to
    Appollonia to watch over the wonderful young people who work for us.

  53. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 21, 2019 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    Went for Zenaida mainly for providing medical care to those who couldn’t afford to pay and partly because I used to work for a splendid woman named Zenaida.

  54. Marcia's Gravatar Marcia
    March 21, 2019 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    I read the limerick, sang the song,
    But chuckles failed to guide me,
    So tossed a coin, Zenaida won!
    Now don’t you all deride me —

  55. Wynne Osborne's Gravatar Wynne Osborne
    March 21, 2019 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Child psychotherapist here. Zenaida was the obvious choice for me. I will adopt her as my person saint!

  56. Mary K's Gravatar Mary K
    March 21, 2019 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I was, at first, enchanted with the story of Apollonia. I had a great Aunt Apollonia and was always thankful I wasn’t named after her. My father was a dentist…..so she was in the running, until I read about Zenaida. Zenaida’s story was much more compelling.

  57. Patricia Samuel's Gravatar Patricia Samuel
    March 21, 2019 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    There re several dentists of various types in my family, including my daughter. I also want to support the concept of ordained women in the early church, so am voting for Appollonia today. Zenaida is a most worthy opponent, for all the reasons given.

  58. drlulu's Gravatar drlulu
    March 21, 2019 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    As a retired pediatrician Zenaida was my choice–medically available and an interest in children.

  59. Blanche's Gravatar Blanche
    March 21, 2019 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Where can I find a list of the winners in sweet sixteen bracket, so I can fill in my score card?

  60. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 21, 2019 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like Zenaida prefigured universal health care by about 2,000 years.

  61. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    March 21, 2019 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Tough to go up against the patron saint of affordable health care.

  62. Cynthia Cravens's Gravatar Cynthia Cravens
    March 21, 2019 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Although, Apollonia’s martyrdom is heroic, and the fact that she became the patron saint of dentistry almost amusing (Almost! In a dark, ironic sense), gotta go with Zenaida, the healer who devoted her entire life to the sick, without asking for compensation, i.d., or verification of insurance…

    Zenaida! She’s the one who’ll aid ya,
    even without medicaid-a!

  63. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 21, 2019 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t like saying it was a “no contest” day for me, but Zenaida had it pretty much out of the gates. After personally being impacted by healthcare costs for the first time in my life, I hold nothing but reverence for a woman delivering care to the least of us free of charge around 100 CE; will we never learn?

  64. Terie's Gravatar Terie
    March 21, 2019 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Why so few votes for Apollonia?? The poor woman had her teeth knocked out AND she was burned alive! She deserves to win for just one of those hideous events, let alone two!!!

  65. Mh's Gravatar Mh
    March 21, 2019 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Umm – I do believe that may be Philonella’s picture, not Zenaida’s. The remainder of the picture from which the above extract was taken shows a woman sitting on the ground, her foot bleeding from a cut caused by a nail. That woman would be Zenaida, right?

  66. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 21, 2019 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Zenaida. Because healing.

  67. Deacon Carol's Gravatar Deacon Carol
    March 21, 2019 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    A woman giving out medical care for free gets the vote of this retired nurse! Besides she was a Christian in Tarsus where my American great-grandfather and his wife spent many years ministering to the Armenian Christian community during the genocide. However, I do like the write up about Apollonia, now I know who think of as I sit in the dentist’s chair!

    • Deacon Carol's Gravatar Deacon Carol
      March 21, 2019 - 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Too bad there is no “edit” button: who TO think of is what I meant!

  68. March 21, 2019 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Zenaida, one of the very first medical missionaries. Blessed to have learned of her story today.

  69. Waynecarlos's Gravatar Waynecarlos
    March 21, 2019 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I hate to think what medical care was like in 100.

  70. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 21, 2019 - 4:47 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to the early church physician, Zenaida. The description of her and her sister’s exercise of “modern scientific principles” in their medical practice brought a smile, given the state of medicine in the first century CE.

  71. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 21, 2019 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t Zenaida’s sister have a name? Zenaida, Zenaida, Zenaida…. It’s always about her.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 22, 2019 - 2:35 am | Permalink

      Zenaida’s entry above begins Zenaida and her sister Philonella (emphasis mine) . . . .

  72. Amy L. Varin's Gravatar Amy L. Varin
    March 21, 2019 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for Apollonia because I once had a Lab who would have been named Apollonia if she hadn’t come with a name. She chewed so many things that I used to tell her that she was in danger of having all her teeth pulled out.

  73. Pe's Gravatar Pe
    March 21, 2019 - 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I love Zenaida and what she represents to those of us today who desire medical care availability for all. she’s my “Top Doc.”

  74. Joy Cass's Gravatar Joy Cass
    March 21, 2019 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

    As a retired female child psychiatrist, I had to vote for Zenaida. I wish I had known of her when I first became a physician many years ago, when women were just starting to be admitted to the professions and Freud’s teachings were gospel. Religion was supposed to be for those who were mentally immature, and intellect had primacy. I actually felt guilty that I was a committed follower of Jesus! That changed over the years, especially when I attended ANTS to see if I could figure this problem out…

    • Greg's Gravatar Greg
      March 21, 2019 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry – what is ANTS?

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 21, 2019 - 10:25 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s the second one down:
        Acronym Definition
        ANTS A New Tax System (Australia)
        ANTS Andover Newton Theological School
        ANTS Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés (French national security agency)
        ANTS Algorithmic Number Theory Symposium
        ANTS Autonomous Nanotechnology Swarm (NASA)
        ANTS 8-Aminonaphthalene-1,3,6-Trisulfonic Acid
        ANTS Adult Non-Traditional Student (various schools)
        ANTS Administrative Notes Technical Supplement (US GPO)
        ANTS Advanced Networks and Telecommunication Systems (symposium)
        ANTS Anglo-Norman Text Society
        ANTS Active Network Transport System
        ANTS AT&T/Novell Telephone Services
        ANTS Airborne Night Television System
        ANTS Automatic Navigability Testing System
        ANTS Advanced Naval Training School
        ANTS Army NBCCS Tracking System
        ANTS Adaptive Networks, Threats and Solutions (US Army)
        ANTS Antenna Subsystem
        ANTS Approximate Non-Deterministic Tree Search
        Copyright 1988-2018 AcronymFinder.com, All rights reserved

  75. Barb Gutzler's Gravatar Barb Gutzler
    March 21, 2019 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I feel bad for Appolonia, getting blown up by a car bomb. Oh, wait! Wrong Appolonia.
    But the female doctor got my vote.

  76. Carolyn Herold's Gravatar Carolyn Herold
    March 21, 2019 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

    In the spirit of Zenaida, but with due reverence to Apollonia per her Collect,
    Oh that modern day dentists would follow the example of Zenaida’s so that we could affordably …. receive with her [Apollonia] the crown of life.

  77. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 21, 2019 - 10:54 pm | Permalink

    That’s Appollonia. In the end, Michael is alone. Crime doesn’t pay. Neither does medicine, apparently, unless you get your tetanus shot. Go, women physicians.

  78. Terrie W.'s Gravatar Terrie W.
    March 22, 2019 - 1:13 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Zenaida and her desire to make medical treatment available to all drew me; especially living in Idaho which has a high Medicaid gap where a large number of citizens either don’t make enough to qualify for regular insurance, but also make to much to qualify for Medicaid. Although the issue has also been going on for many years, Idaho just did vote for Medicaid expansion this year although it too doesn’t begin until 2020. Although I thought Appolonia’s martyrdom very heroic, thinking about how much this particular issue has hit locally as well with the local Free Clinic backed up, and a local clinic which has a sliding scale and at least three different branches having the same issue I couldn’t help but think how much in our present day that there need to be more Medical Professionals like Zenaida!

  79. valerie's Gravatar valerie
    March 22, 2019 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    for those not familiar with the tune to DENTIST

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