St. Polycarp’s Day

St. Polycarp (c. 69-c. 155) was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. He became bishop of Smyrna in 96 and, when the persecution of Christians was ordered by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was condemned to be burned at the stake. But according to legend, the fire formed an arch over his head and his body was left unharmed. When a spear was plunged into his heart, so much blood poured out that it quenched the flames. It was the martyrdom of St. Polycarp that gave rise to one of Christianity’s richest traditions: the annual commemoration of the anniversary of a saint’s death.


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