Thursday, February 23, 2017


Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, Martyr. We don't know the precise year of his death; some sources put it at 166/7, others at 156/7; the latter fits some other bits of evidence about his age at death and people he knew a little better than the former, so most people go with that. Irenaeus met him in person when younger, and tells us that he was converted by the Apostles, and knew John in particular. Polycarp also corresponded with Ignatius of Antioch. The letter of the Smyrnaeans on the story of his martyrdom is one of the earliest surviving testimonies of Christian martyrdom outside the New Testament.

From his letter to the Philippians, Chapter 12:

For I am confident that you are well versed in the Scriptures, and from you nothing is hid; but to me this is not granted. Only, as it is said in these Scriptures, "Be ye angry and sin not," and "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Blessed is the man who remembers this, and I believe that it is so with you. Now may God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the "eternal Priest" himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness, and without wrath, and in patience, and in longsuffering, and endurance, and purity, and may he give you lot and part with his saints, and to us with you, and to all under heaven who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his "Father who raised him from the dead." "Pray for all the saints. Pray also for the Emperors," and for potentates, and princes, and for "those who persecute you and hate you," and for "the enemies of the Cross" that "your fruit may be manifest among all men, that you may be perfected" in him.

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