(around)69 : : Died:
St. Polycarp became a Christian when the followers of Jesus were still few. In fact, Polycarp was a disciple of one of the first apostles, St. John. He was also a friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
All that Polycarp learned from St. John he taught to others and he was a well respected Christian leader. He was a new kind of Christian for his time. He was not a Jew and did not know the Old Testament Scriptures; instead he knew well the customs and beliefs of the Apostles.
Polycarp became a priest and then bishop of Smyrna in present-day Turkey. He was Smyrna's bishop for many years and the Christians loved their holy and brave shepherd. The Churches in Asia Minor chose St. Polycarp to go on their behalf and discuss with Pope Anicetus an important matter - the date of the Easter celebration in Rome.
During that time Christians faced torture and death under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Polycarp was shown to his enemies by a traitor. 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 curse Jesus and save himself from death. "For eighty-six years I have served Jesus Christ," 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 and placed him on a burning pile but the fire did not harm him. One of the soldiers then stabbed a dagger into his heart and killed him. And so, in the year 155, Polycarp died a martyr.
He went to be forever with his Divine Master Jesus Christ whom he had served so bravely.
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