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Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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St Polycarp

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Born between the years 70 and 80 AD, Polycarp, as a young man, was a disciple of John the Evangelist, who later consecrated him bishop. A disciple of Polycarp was Irenaeus, who later became Bishop of Lyons, in France, then the Roman province of Gaul.

Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna (today known as Izmir), a city on the west coast of Turkey. The letters to the "seven churches in Asia" at the beginning of St John's book of Revelation include a letter to the church in Smyrna, identifying it as a church undergoing persecution.

St. Polycarp accompanied St. Ignatius of Antioch to Rome to consult with Pope Anecitus about the celebration of Easter. Polycarp was denounced to the government, arrested, and tried on the charge of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing Christ, he replied:

"Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong.
How can I blaspheme my King who saved me
?"

This gentle old man was martyred in 155 by by being burned to death, and was one of the first martyrs to be venerated.