Name: St. Polycarp
Date: 26 January
Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of Saint John. He wrote to the Philippians,exhorting them to mutual love and to hatred of heresy. When the apostate Marcion met SaintPolycarp at Rome, he asked the aged Saint if he knew him. “Yes,” Saint Polycarp answered, “Iknow you for the first-born of Satan.” These were the words of a Saint, most loving and mostcharitable, and specially noted for his compassion to sinners. He abhorred heresy, because heloved God and man so well.
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 toSmyrna early on Holy Saturday; and as he entered, a voice was heard from heaven, “Polycarp, bestrong.” When the proconsul urged 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 Kingand Saviour?” When he threatened him with fire, Polycarp told him this fire of his lasted but ashort time, 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 harm; therefore 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 jewelsor gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, at which may God grant us to assemble with joy, tocelebrate the birthday of the martyr to his life in heaven!”