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St Polycarp of Smyrna was a disciple of the Apostles of Jesus Christ so he heard the first hand account of the life

of Christ, of what Jesus said and did during his time with the Apostles. St John the Evangelist was the Apostle most influential in St Polycarps formation and ordained him Bishop of Smyrna. He was bishop of Smyrna for about 70 years. He was a friend and of St. Ignatius of Antioch. St Polycarp did a lot of Christian writing, especially fighting heresies of his time. One heresy he fought was the gnostic heresy which claimed salvation came through their spiritual knowledge. He also argued against heresies that believed Gods incarnation was a product of imagination and myth. St Polycarp was respectful and charitable to his opponents but was bold in defending Christ and the Catholic Church. In about the year 158 AD, St Polycarp travelled to Rome to discuss with Pope Anicetus the date of when Easter should be celebrated. Soon after his visit to Rome, St Polycarp was arrested by the Roman proconsul and taken to be thrown to the wild animals. St Polycarp had earlier had a dream of his pillow burning so knew his martyrdom would be by burning. The governor tried to persuade Polycarp to renounce Christianity and choose alliance with Caesar but St Polycarp chose martyrdom by burning at the age of 86 years old. According to Martyrium Polycarpi, St. Polycarp did not burn, instead an arch of fire formed around him and he appeared to be glowing. This infuriated the executioners and one of them killed St Polycarp with a sword. The stories of early martyrs makes me appreciate my own faith more because I realize many had to give their life for their beliefs, for the privilege of going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion. Many early Christians of St Polycarps time desired martyrdom and even sought it out. St Polycarp wanted to face persecution as Jesus Christ did which was not to seek persecution but to avoid it until God willed it. He also understood that a sign of love was to not only be concerned about his own salvation but to bring others to Christ for their salvation. A significant writing of St Polycarp is titled The Letter to the Philippians in which he refers to St. Paul as an important authority of the Church. Many credit St Polycarps writings of clarifying the role of St Paul in Church history. St Polycarp witnessed the Catholic faith by his faithful writings and teachings, by his desire to bring others to Christ and by happily accepting his own martyrdom. His teacher had been St John the Evangelist who retold him his own personal stories of his friendship with Christ. References: