23 Feb

St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr; Memorial: February 23

From the book on the Ecclesiastical Writers by St Jerome, Priest

Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, who appointed him Bishop of Smyrna, was venerated as the head of all Asia, because he had seen and had for teachers some of the apostles and those who had seen the Lord.

He went to Rome during the reign of the emperor Antonius Pius, and in the pontificate of Anicetus, about certain questions regarding the date of Easter.

While there, he brought back to the faith several believers who had been misled by the teaching of Marcion and Valentine. On a certain occasion, he chanced to meet Marcion, who said to him: “Do you know us?” Polycarp replied: “Yes, I know you as the first-born of the devil.”

But some time after the reign of Marcus Antonius and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, in the fourth persecution after Nero, he was condemned to the flames at Smyrna, in the amphitheatre before the pro-consul on his seat and with all the people clamouring against him. He wrote a very useful letter to the Philippians, which is still read in the congregations of Asia.


O God, who gladden us with the yearly festival of blessed Polycarp, your Martyr and Bishop, mercifully grant that as we venerate the anniversary of his martyrdom, we may also rejoice in his protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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