Thursday, April 14, 2022

Polycarp of Smyrna


"Saint" Polycarp was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (in modern Turkey). He died as a martyr (for refusing to burn incense to the Roman emperor) by being bound and burned at the stake, but when the fire failed to consume his body, he was stabbed. Several traditional churches consider him a saint and a Church Father. Irenaeus (another bishop from Smyrna, and a younger contemporary of Polycarp) and Tertullian (a Christian author born the year Polycarp died) say Polycarp was a direct disciple of the Apostle John, brother of James. The two-centuries-later (but much respected) writer Jerome said the same. With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch (who wrote him a letter on his way to his own martyrdom in Rome), Polycarp (the name means "fruitful") is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers.

  • Polycarp's sole surviving work, an Epistle to the Philippians, seems to derive mainly from other works, including some that would eventually be included in the Christian New Testament.


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