St. Apphia—A Saint Who Was Asked to Prepare a Room for Paul
St. Apphia and her husband, St. Philemon share Nov. 22 as a memorial.
I [Paul] give thanks to my God always, remembering you [Apphia and family] in my prayers, as I hear of the love and the faith you have in the Lord Jesus and for all the holy ones. ―Philemon 4–5
Apphia’s name is found only within the Letter to Philemon. Although this particular letter (or Epistle) bears the name of Philemon, it was actually addressed by St. Paul to three people: Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus. Apphia was likely the wife of Philemon, and many biblical historians claim that Archippus was their son. (Paul’s description of Apphia as a “sister” was meant in the sense of a sister in Christ rather than as a blood sister.) This family lived in Colossae and was of some influence and wealth.
By reading the mere twenty-five verses of this letter, we can learn that Apphia was a great support in the growing faith of Christianity. She offered her family’s home to be used as a church, and we can also find in the letter a request from Paul that a guest room be prepared for him at Apphia’s house:
Prepare a guest room for me, for I hope to be granted to you through your prayers. —Philemon 22
Paul also sent a letter to all Christians of Colossae, offering sound advice and hopeful encouragement. Evidently there were preachers in Apphia’s hometown at that time who would veer off on angles, getting away from the core of Christianity―Christ. Paul gave warning in this letter against embracing these “shadow” teachings and reminded the Colossians to keep Jesus at the center of their lives. In the fourth chapter of this letter, there is a brief reference to Apphia’s possible son, Archippus, indicating that he was a church leader in Colossae.
It is fair to assume that Apphia read both of these letters―Philemon and Colossians―in their entirety; it is even plausible that they were read to other new Christians in her home church. How these letters directly influenced Apphia and her family as they continued to grow and help others grow in Christ is intriguing to consider.
A Nine-Day Retreat with St. Apphia
St. Apphia and her husband, St. Philemon share Nov. 22 as a memorial. Because St. Apphia let her house be used as a church in the earliest days of Christianity, she could be considered a patron of various ministries that support parishes. St. Apphia can be discovered best by exploring, delving, and digging into the Letter to Philemon. Consider reading one chunk of the short letter a day—keeping in mind that it was written to Apphia as well as to Philemon. Try to imagine Apphia’s reaction to the deliverer of the letter—Onesimus—the family’s runaway slave. Remember to ask St. Apphia to pray for your intentions during the nine days of study.
- Day 1) Philemon 1–3
- Day 2) Philemon 4–6
- Day 3) Philemon 7–12
- Day 4) Philemon 13–20
- Day 5) Philemon 21–25
- Day 6) Colossians 1:1–2
- Day 7) Colossians 4:1
- Day 8) Colossians 4:7–9
- Day 9) Colossians 4:17