So, after a couple of weeks of laughing off the growing discomfort inside my mouth, I woke up yesterday with the distinct impression (by which I mean stabbing pain) that the situation wasn’t all that funny anymore. And, of course, my worst suspicions were confirmed when my local hygienist strapped my head into one of those new fangled spinning x-ray machines and the results came back looking like this…
Now, my wisdom teeth have been bothering me on and off for about fifteen years, but never to the point where I felt the need to have them removed. However, when the dental assistant remarked, “The doctor will have to say for sure, but I’m guessing this tooth that has grown in sideways and is boring into the root of the one next to it might be your problem,” well, I figured the time had come. Unfortunately, my being who I am, all I can think about before my extraction tomorrow is this…
I mean, really, as nice a guy as my dentist is, how do I know he didn’t go home tonight and discover his wife was cheating on him just like in the movie, and then he’s going to show up tomorrow morning with homicide in his heart while I innocently lie there waiting on him to rip things out of my skull. Wonderful.
This sounds like a job for St. Appolonia! As legends tell it, Appolonia was one of the many Christians who suffered martyrdom under the reign of Emperor Philip the Arab during the mid third century. As detailed by St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria at the time, “Apollonia, parthénos presbytis, was held in high esteem. These men seized her also and by repeated blows broke all her teeth. They then erected outside the city gates a pile of fagots and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat after them impious words. Given, at her own request, a little freedom, she sprang quickly into the fire and was burned to death.” Because of what happened with her teeth, the Church has declared Apollonia the patron saint of dentists and toothaches, and you can often find her depicted with pincers in which a tooth (sometimes glowing) is held.
You can even find reliquaries around which reputedly hold one of her teeth. This one’s from Portugal.
So rather than sit here and worry that my dentist is going to go all Corbin Bernsen on me, I think I’ll just say the following prayer instead.
0 Glorious Apollonia, patron saint of dentistry and refuge to all those suffering from diseases of the teeth, I consecrate myself to thee, beseeching thee to number me among thy clients. Assist me by your intercession with God in my daily work and intercede with Him to obtain for me a happy death. Pray that my heart like thine may be inflamed with the love of Jesus and Mary, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 0 My God, bring me safe through temptation and strengthen me as thou didst our own patron Apollonia, through Christ our Lord. Amen.