Tag Archives: St Polycarp

St Polycarp

Today we liturgically honor St Polycarp. We have a letter from St Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp written around AD 110, when he was a young bishop in Smyrna. Ignatius himself going to Rome in chains to face martyrdom. Ignatius wrote:

Stand firm, like an anvil being struck with a hammer. It is the mark of a great athlete to be bruised, yet still conquer. But especially we must, for God’s sake, patiently bear all things, so that he may also bear with us. Be more diligent than you are. Understand the times. Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way. (Letter of Ignatius to Polycarp, 3)

Polycarp stood firm; he was a great athlete; he was patient; he was diligent. Are we? Do we have these traits in in following Christ, and dealing with adversity? Today, let us ask for the same grace Polycarp did so as to fight evil?

Saint Polycarp

As a disciple of the Apostles especially Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and as bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Polycarp (+155) is a very interesting friend of Jesus. A very well-connected man.

At that Polycarp’s time among the many issues of the nascent Church was the date to celebrate the Resurrection. Polycarp travelled to Rome to confer with Pope Anicetus about the celebration of Easter. Polycarp’s importance in Church history is critical as his  writings is among the the earliest Church Fathers to survive. He bears witness to the beliefs of the early Christians and the early stages of the development of doctrine. He was martyred at the age of 86 in about 155 by being burnt to death in the stadium. The aroma of his burning flesh was that of baking bread. Some make the connection that his death was eucharistic. The blood from Polykarp’s body put the fire out. The account of his death became a new genre of writing which came to be known as Acts of the Martyrs encouraging Christians to live their lives with coherence with Christ Jesus.

Saint Polycarp

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Saint Polycarp‘s rich writings point to one thing: a sharp focus on Jesus Christ as the only thing we ought to be concerned with today. Nothing else really matters….

Polycarp (AD 69-155) was a bishop of Smyrna and martyr of the Church. He was a disciple of the Beloved Disciple John who ordained him a bishop. Polycarp’s life and work are attested to by Irenaeus, Tertullian and Jerome. He is called an Apostolic Father along with Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Saint Polycarp’s witness is key in knowing the early Church’s life and how we work in building up the Kingdom today. The saint was instrumental in bring others to Christ.

This excerpt tells us of his call to greater conversion in the Lord.

“… if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing or blow for blow or cursing for cursing; but remembering the words which the Lord spake as He taught; Judge not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and again Blessed are the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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