Capuchin Priest and Martyr
Apollinaris' life as a Capuchin in humility, obedience and study seems sheer folly to the world. Born near Freeburgh in Switzerland in 1739, he received his education from the Jesuits. In 1762 he joined the Capuchins in Zug and here he became a model of fervour, discipline and study. Using the gifts and talents God gave him, he became a valuable member of the Province as a preacher, a much sought confessor, and an eminent instructor of the young clerics of the Order. He impressed on their minds the truth that piety and learning are the two eyes of the priest and the humility was a dominating virtue in his life.
Inspired by God to seek the foreign missions, Apollinaris asked and received permission to prepare himself for this work in Paris by studying Oriental languages. This was in 1788. The French revolution broke out while he was there and because he steadfastly refused to take the oath of allegiance, he was imprisoned in the Carmelite Convent in Paris and there suffered a cruel martyrdom on September 2nd 1792. It is of note that Apollinaris had the holy desire for the missions, but God granted him the Martyr's palm while he was in Europe. "Man proposes and God disposes".
Martyred along with Apollinaris were nearly two hundred priests, secular and religious, all of whom refused to take the schismatic oath. Apollinaris encouraged these fellow prisoners in their heroic resolve to face death rather than offend God and disgrace the Cross and the Catholic Church.
Throughout Apollinaris' life, he understood that while the world is challenged by a religious, it also admires a true religious, a genuine Capuchin. So it was, even before his physical martyrdom, he was a martyr to his calling in his obedience and regular observance.
It is of particular interest to Franciscans that Apollinaris was one of three followers of Francis to whom God granted the gift of martyrdom in that Carmelite Monastery. The other two were, Blessed John Francis Burte, a Conventual, and Blessed Severin Girault, a member of the Third Order Regular.
The feast of Blessed Apollinaris is celebrated on September 2nd.