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St. Polycarp

Saint Polycarp

Bishop & Martyr

Polycarp was born in the year of Our Lord 69, and came to the faith at a young age. He learned from the Apostles themselves, especially St. John, who made Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor. Polycarp was highly regarded by all for his piety, and was friends with several contemporaries including St. Papias, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Irenaeus, a direct disciple of Polycarp. Around the year of Our Lord 155 a persecution arose, and several Christians in Smyrna received their crowns of martyrdom in the amphitheater there. Polycarp remained in hiding at the urging of his flock, but he foresaw his manner of death, and was eventually betrayed and arrested. When ordered to blaspheme Christ, the holy bishop responded: “Fourscore and six years have I served Him, and He never did me harm; how can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” The pagans attempted to burn Polycarp alive, but the mighty fire surrounded the saint in a great arch, keeping him safe in the middle. A soldier pierced him through with a spear, and Polycarp’s blood extinguished the fire as the saint expired. Polycarp is regarded as one of the primary “Apostolic Fathers” of the Church, and is also a patron against earache.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for January 26th

AT Smyrna, the birthday of St. Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle St. John, who consecrated him bishop of that city and Primate of all Asia. Afterwards, under Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, whilst the proconsul was sitting in judgment, and all the people in the amphitheatre were clamoring against him, he was condemned to the flames. But as he received no injury from them, he was transpierced with a sword, and thus received the crown of martyrdom. With him suffered in the same city twelve others from Philadelphia.

At Hippo Regius, in Africa, the holy bishop Theogenes and thirty-six others, who, despising temporal death, obtained the crown of eternal life in the persecution of Valerian.

At Bethlehem of Juda, the demise of St. Paula, widow, mother of St. Eustochium, virgin of Christ, who abandoned her worldly prospects, though she was descended from a noble line of senators, distributed her goods to the poor, and retired to the manger of our Lord, where, adorned with many virtues, and crowned with a long martyrdom, she departed for the kingdom of heaven. Her admirable life was written by St. Jerome.

In the diocese of Paris, the saintly queen Bathildis, illustrious by her sanctity and glorious miracles.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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