Polycarp is a good example of a complete life in Christ. He was a student of St. John the beloved apostle. My fourth son Noah chose St. Polycarp for his confirmation saint and so now I have a special reason to love him.
Last year for Noah's 18th birthday, we gave him a golden St. Polycarp medal to remind him of his patron saint, and as a memento from his parents. He wears it all the time.
Polycarp in Greek comes from two words “poly” meaning many or much, and “carp” meaning fruit. Obviously his Christian parents named him Polycarp along with a prayer that he would bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God — which he did.
It also inspires me that Polycarp was bishop for 70 years, which shows me that faith and bravery isn't something just for the young, but grows with middle age and into the golden years as well. Our culture today seems to encourage senior citizens to be "done" with responsibility and live out their lives focused on pleasing themselves. St. Polycarp is an example of persevering to the end.
Today we read about St. Polycarp's life and discussing his bravery. I don't see much honor in killing an old man, and it's ironic that instead of silencing him, his death brought even more to the new Christian faith.
A very readable version of his martyrdom is here.
A Currell via Flickr, licensed cc
At 86, Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the saint’s body burned. The “Acts” of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He died in 156.
“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).
Flee wicked arts; but all the more discourse regarding them. Speak to my sisters, that they love in our Lord, and that their husbands be sufficient for them in the flesh and spirit. Then, again, charge my brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, as our Lord His Church. If any man is able in power to continue in
purity,(1) to the honour of the flesh of our Lord, let him continue so without boasting; if he boasts, he is undone; if he become known apart from the bishop, he has destroyed himself.(2) It is becoming, therefore, to men and women who marry, that they marry with the counsel of the bishop, that the marriage may be in our Lord, and not in lust. Let everything, therefore, be [done] for the honour of God.
"I have served Him eighty-six years and in no way has He dealt unjustly with me; so how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?
Patron against earache and dysentery.
Many Catholics say before meals, is attributed to St. Polycarp!
Bless us Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we have received from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Our Lady of Peace Geneva via Flickr licensed by cc.