St Polycarp, who served as the Bishop of Smyrna, was a follower of St. John. In one of his letters to the Philippians, he encouraged them to love one another and to oppose heresy.
On a visit to Rome, the apostate Marcion encountered St. Polycarp and asked if he recognized him. The elderly Saint responded by identifying him as “the first-born of Satan.”
St Polycarp was known for his great love and compassion toward sinners.
|St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr Biography
|Date of Birth
|Country of Birth
|Turkey in Europe
|Martyr, Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna
|Place of Work
|Date of Death
|155 AD (aged 86 or 87)
|Place of Death
|Smyrna, Asia, Roman Empire
|Patron Saint of
St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr Life History
Despite this kindness, St Polycarp strongly opposed heresy due to his deep love for God and humanity. In the years around 155 AD, persecution broke out in Smyrna, and when Polycarp was informed that his pursuers had arrived at his door, he humbly accepted the will of God and met them.
He asked for a little time to pray for the Catholic Church around the world before being taken into custody on Holy Saturday. As he entered custody, a voice from heaven was heard saying, “Polycarp, be strong.”
When the proconsul urged Polycarp to renounce Christ and avoid punishment, the Saint replied by declaring that he had served Christ for eighty-six years without ever receiving any harm, and that he would never blaspheme his King and Savior.
Even when threatened with fire, Polycarp fearlessly proclaimed that the earthly flames would only last for a short while, while the flames of hell awaited those who rejected Christ.
As he was tied to the stake, Polycarp publicly thanked God for the privilege of drinking from the same cup as Christ.
Although the fire was ignited, it did not harm Polycarp. As a result, he was stabbed in the heart, and his lifeless body was burned.
The authors of his story then wrote, “We collected his bones, which were more valuable than any precious gem or gold, and placed them in a suitable location, where we hope to gather with joy to celebrate the martyr’s heavenly life on his birthday.”
Death of Saint Polycarp ends the Sub-apostolic Age
During his lifetime, news of Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom as the Bishop of Smyrna spread widely, making him a prominent figure in the early Church. This fame has endured, and he remains widely known to this day.
Saint Polycarp is one of the few early martyrs whose death is extensively documented, to the point where it has been confirmed that he was executed on the exact day of his present feast day, which is February 23.
The Roman Religion Back Then
The gods worshiped in ancient Rome played a similar role to national symbols such as flags, anthems, and holidays in modern nations.
They served as universal symbols of pride for the entire nation and brought people together.
Just as people today stand for the national anthem, face the flag, and sing the familiar words, Roman citizens would visit the temples of their gods, make a request, and burn incense on the altar of their favorite deity.
For early Christians like Polycarp, refusing to burn incense before a pagan god required heroic courage.
To the Romans, this act was similar to spitting on their national flag. However, Polycarp remained steadfast in his faith, which he had adopted after much reflection, having heard about the resurrection of Jesus from Saint John himself.
He was proud to die for his religion, which he had learned from one of the Lord’s own Apostles. He even met with the famous Bishop of Antioch, Saint Ignatius, who wrote one of his seven famous letters to Polycarp.
Polycarp’s Christian leadership was impeccable, and he even traveled to Rome to discuss the dating of Easter with the Pope.
Today’s Catholic Quote
If we truly love Jesus Christ, we will also love the Church and reject heresy that tears apart His mystical body and damages the souls for which He sacrificed Himself.
Following the example of Saint Polycarp, we must remain steadfast in our faith and love for Jesus Christ, who is the creator and ultimate perfecter of our faith.
Saint Polycarp Quotes
👉I have been a servant of Christ for 86 years, and He has never harmed me. So how could I ever speak against my King who saved me?…I am grateful to You for considering me worthy of this day and this hour, so that I may become one of Your martyrs and partake in the suffering of my Lord Jesus Christ.”
👉Be cautious of the desire for wealth and maintain your purity and righteousness. Refrain from all forms of wrongdoing. If you cannot control your own actions, how can you teach others to exercise self-control?
👉Submit to one another and maintain a blameless conduct among people who are not believers, so that you may receive recognition for your good deeds and prevent the Lord’s name from being defamed because of you. However, anyone who defames the name of the Lord will face trouble. Therefore, teach self-control to everyone and demonstrate it through your own behavior.
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
You are saved by grace, not by your own works, but through the will of God by means of Jesus Christ. If we live in a way that pleases Him in this world, we will also receive the blessings of the future world, as God has promised to raise us from the dead. If we live worthy of Him, we shall reign with Him, as long as we have faith.
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