Saint Polycarp (69 AD – 155 AD) was raised a Christian and from an early age was in contact with those who had known Our Lord personally. He was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist himself, who consecrated him Bishop of Smyrna.
Having learned from Saint John about the life of Our Lord, about His simultaneous divinity and humanity, Saint Polycarp was instrumental in combating the early heresies which denied either one or the other of these two facts.
It is believed that he wrote many letters, but only one is preserved, a letter written to the Church of the Philippi in Macedonia. In it, with clarity, he reminded the Philippians that, “Everyone who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist, and whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of Satan."
Around the year 155, Saint Polycarp became aware that the Roman authorities were on the lookout for him. He withdrew to a house in the country and there spent his days in prayer, preparing himself for the martyrdom he knew was about to come. He changed locations a few times but was eventually located and arrested. When he refused to deny Christ, he was sentenced to death by being tied to a stake and burned. However, when the sentence was carried out, the fire surrounding him did not touch his body. He was then stabbed to death. From the resulting wound, there came forth so great a quantity of blood, that the fire was extinguished. Those watching the scene marvelled at this and at how bravely Saint Polycarp faced his execution.
Saint Polycarp has been venerated as a Saint since his death in 155.