Friday, June 8, 2012

Martyrdom of Polycarp

Here is an account of another hero of the faith's martyrdom. Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna when he faced his death in 155. He was one of the three chief Apostolic Fathers (along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch). Once again, I am inspired by the faith of these men, and thankful for their sacrificial deaths that were building blocks for the Church. Here is the account of Polycarp's martyrdom written by Justo L. Gonzalez:

"When the old bishop learned that he was being sought, he followed the advice of his flock, and hid for several days. But after having moved to another hiding place, and still being discovered, he decided that his arrest was the will of God, refused to flee any further, and calmly awaited those who came after him. 

The proconsul who presided at his trial tried to persuade him to worship the emperor, urging him to consider his advanced age. When Polycarp refused, the judge ordered him to cry: "Out with the Atheists!" to this Polycarp responded by pointing at the crowd around him and saying: "Yes. Out with the atheists!" Again the judge insisted, promising that if he would swear by the emperor and curse Christ he would be free to go. But Polycarp replied: "For eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no evil. How could I curse my king who saved me?"

Thus the dialogue went on. When the judge threatened him with being burned alive, Polycarp simply answered that the fire that the judge could light would only last a moment, whereas eternal fire would never go out. Finally, we are told that after he was tied to a post in the pyre, he looked up and prayed out loud: "Lord Sovereign God, I thank you that you have deemed me worthy of this moment, so that, jointly with your martyrs, I may have a share in the cup of Christ......For this...I bless and glorify you. Amen."

Martrydom of Polycarp, 14. 

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