Polycarp was born between the years 75 and 80. He became a Christian when the followers of Jesus were still few. In fact, Polycarp was a disciple of one of the original apostles, St. John. All that Polycarp learned from St. John he taught to others. Polycarp became a priest and then bishop of Smyrna in present-day Turkey. He was Smyrna's bishop for many years. The Christians recognized him as a holy, brave shepherd.
Christians in Polycarp's time faced persecution and death under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Someone betrayed Polycarp to the authorities. When his captors came to arrest him, he invited them first to share a meal with him. Then he asked them to let him pray a while. The judge tried to force Bishop Polycarp to save himself from death by cursing Jesus. "I have served Jesus all my life," answered the saint, "and he has never done me any wrong. How can I curse my King who died for me?"
The soldiers tied St. Polycarp's hands behind his back. The old bishop was then placed on a burning pile. But the fire did not harm him. One of the soldiers then stabbed a lance into his heart. And so, in the year 155, Polycarp died a martyr.
He went to be forever with the Divine Master he had served so bravely.
"For eighty-six years I have served Jesus Christ and he has never abandoned me" –St. Polycarp