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Wooden statue of St Apollonia and two tormentors, Europe, 1850-1928

Many Christians have long believed that the saints are able to plead with God on their behalf and that particular saints can give protection against specific illnesses. St Apollonia was considered a saint, having been martyred around 249 CE. In the Christian tradition, a martyr is someone killed because of their beliefs. This statue shows the very painful way in which Apollonia was martyred. Her teeth were broken and pulled out one by one using pliers. For this reason, she is revered as the patron saint of toothache and of dentists. This statue is a copy of the original, which is in the Chapelle de la Houssaye in Pontivy, France.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: patron saint

A saint believed to protect or guide a place or particular group of people.

Glossary: toothache

Pain in a tooth or in the teeth

Glossary: dentistry

The study, treatment and management of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, gums, teeth and their supporting tissues.