Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr – Feast Day – February 23

Today is Friday, January 27, 2023

St Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of St. John. He wrote to the Philippians, exhorting them to mutual love and to hatred of heresy. When the apostate Marcion met St. Polycarp at Rome, he asked the aged Saint if he knew him. “Yes,” St. Polycarp answered, “I know you for the first-born of Satan.”

St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr Date of Birth, Country of Birth, Profession, Place of Work, Date of Death, Place of Death, Feast Day, Beatification Date, Canonization DateMatrimony/Holy OrdersBishops who became Saints

St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr brief life History

Date of Birth 69 AD
Country of Birth Turkey in Europe
Profession Martyr, Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna
Place of Work Smyrna, Turkey
Date of Death 156 (aged 86 or 87)
Place of Death Smyrna, Asia, Roman Empire
Feast Day February 23
Beatification By Pre-Congregation
Canonization By Pre-Congregation
Patron Saint of  Earache sufferers

St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr Short life History

These were the words of a Saint most loving and most charitable and especially noted for his compassion to sinners. He hated heresy because he loved God and man so much. In 167, persecution broke out in Smyrna. When Polycarp heard that his pursuers were at the door, he said, “The will of God be done; ” and meeting them, he begged to be left alone for a little time, which he spent in prayer for “the Catholic Church throughout the world.” He was brought to Smyrna early on Holy Saturday; and, as he entered, a voice was heard from heaven, “Polycarp, be strong.”

When the proconsul brought him to curse Christ and go free, Polycarp answered, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me wrong; how can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?” When he threatened him with fire, Polycarp told him this fire of his lasted but a little, while the fire prepared for the wicked lasted forever. At the stake, he thanked God aloud for letting him drink of Christ’s chalice.

The fire was lighted, but it did him no hurt; so he was stabbed to the heart, and his dead body was burnt. “Then,” say the writers of his acts, “we took up the bones, more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, at which may God grant us to assemble with joy to celebrate the birthday of the martyr to his life in heaven!”

Today’s Catholic Quote:

If we love Jesus Christ, we shall love the Church and hate heresy, which rends His mystical body and destroys the souls for which He died. Like St. Polycarp, we shall maintain our constancy in the faith by loves of Jesus Christ, Who is its author and its finisher.

Saint Polycarp

Death of a venerable bishop ends the sub-apostolic age

A Catholic bishop life is brutally taken away in Turkey. His assassin yells “Allahu Akbar,” stabs his victim repeatedly in the heart, and then cuts his head off.

The few local priests and faithful fear for their lives. The Pope in Rome is taken by shock and prays for the deceased. Five thousand people attend the solemn funeral Mass. An event from long time ago? No.

The slain bishop was an Italian Franciscan named Luigi Padovese, the bereaving Pope was Benedict XVI, and the year was 2010. Turkey is very dangerous territory for a Catholic bishop, whether he is a Bishop Padovese or today’s saint, Bishop Polycarp.

Whether shed by the sharp knife of a contemporary Muslim fanatic, or spilled by a sword swung by a pagan Roman soldier, the blood still ran red from the neck of a Christian leader, puddling in the dirt of a hostile land.

The news of the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, spread far and wide in his own time, making him as famous in the early Church as he is now.

He was martyred around 155 A.D. one of the few early martyrs whose death is verified by documentation so detailed that it even proves that he was executed on the exact day of his present feast—February 23.

Polycarp was 86 years when a rash of oppression broke out against the local Church. He waited patiently at a farm outside of town for his executioners to come and knock on his door. He was then brought before a Roman official and ordered to reject his atheism. What an interesting twist!

The Christian accusation is of atheism by the pagan “believer”. Such was the Roman perception. Christians were atheists as a result of being rejected the traditional civic religion that had been believed by everybody, everywhere, and always.

The Roman Religion Back Then

The Roman gods were a patriotic symbols than objects of belief.No one was martyred for believing in them. No one fought over their creeds, because there were no creeds.

These gods did for Rome what flags, national hymns, and civic holidays do for a modern nation.They united it. They were a universal symbols of national pride.

Just as everybody stands for the national anthem, faces the flag, puts their hand over their heart, and sings the familiar words, so too did Roman citizens walk up the wide marble steps of their many-columned temples, make a petition, and then burn incense on the altar of their favorite god.

It needed heroic courageousness for Polycarp, and thousands of other early Christians, to not drop some grains of incense into a flame burning before a pagan god.For the Romans, to not burn such incense was similar to spitting on a flag.

But Polycarp refusal to renounce the reality of what was his possession as a young man from the mouth of Saint John. That a carpenter by the name Jesus, who had lived many weeks to the south of Smyrna, had risen from the dead after His decomposing body had been placed in a guarded tomb.

And this had happened recently, within the time of Polycarp’s own grandparents!Polycarp was proud to die for a religion he had adopted through hard-earned thought.His pedigree as a Christian leader was impeccable.

He had learned the religion from one in every of the Lord’s very  own Apostles. He had met the well known Bishop of Antioch, Saint Ignatius, when passed through Smyrna on the way to his execution in Rome.

One of Saint Ignatius’ well-known seven letters is even addressed to Polycarp. Polycarp, Saint Irenaeus of Lyon tells us, even has to travel to Rome to meet with the Pope over the question of the dating of Easter.

Saint Polycarp Quotes

Eighty and six years have I served Christ, nor has He ever done me any harm. How, then, could I blaspheme my King who saved Me?…. I bless Thee for deigning me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Beware of greed and remain pure and just. Restrain yourself from every vice. He who cannot restrain himself, how will he be able to teach others restraint?

Become to all of you subject one to another having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles, that you may both receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the blasphems the name of the Lord! Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

By grace, ye are saved, not of works,’ but by the will of God through Jesus Christ . . . If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according to as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead and that if we live worthily of Him, ‘we shall also reign together with Him,’ provided only we believe . . .AZQuotes

For 86 years I have served Jesus Christ and he has never abandoned me. How could I curse my blessed king and savior?

If anyone does not refrain from the love of money, he will be defiled by idolatry and so be judgement as if he were one of the heathen.

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