Leave aside Empty Vanities


Saint Polycarp
Burghers michael saintpolycarp.jpg

S. Polycarpus, engraving by Michael Burghers, ca 1685
Martyr, Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna
Born AD 69
Died mid-late 150’s or 160’s
Feast February 23 (formerly January 26)
Attributes wearing the pallium, holding a book representing his Letter to the Philippians
Patronage against earache, dysentery
Major work(s) Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians

Polycarp (Greek: Πολύκαρπος, Polýkarpos; AD 69– 155-160’s) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna.[2] According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him.[3] Polycarp is regarded as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

It is recorded by Irenaeus, who heard him speak in his youth, and by Tertullian,[4] that he had been a disciple of John the Apostle.[5][6] Saint Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.

The early tradition that expanded upon the Martyrdom to link Polycarp in competition and contrast with John the Apostle who, though many people had tried to kill him, was not martyred but died of old age after being exiled to the island of Patmos, is embodied in the Coptic language fragmentary papyri (the “Harris fragments”) dating to the 3rd to 6th centuries.[7] Frederick Weidmann, their editor, interprets the “Harris fragments” as Smyrnan hagiography addressing Smyrna-Ephesus church rivalries, which “develops the association of Polycarp and John to a degree unwitnessed, so far as we know, either before or since”.[8] The fragments echo the Martyrology, and diverge from it.

With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. The sole surviving work attributed to his authorship is his Letter to the Philippians; it is first recorded by Irenaeus of Lyons.

Letter the Philippians: You have been saved by Grace

Polycarp and the presbyters with him, to the church of God, the one temporarily residing in Philippi. Mercy to you and peace from God the all-powerful and Jesus Christ our Savior be multiplied.

I rejoice with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, having welcomed the replicas of true love and having sent on their way, as was incumbent upon you, those confined by chains fitting for saints which are the crowns of those truly chosen by God and our Lord. And because of the secure root of our faith, being proclaimed from ancient times, {still continues} and bears fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured because of our sins to reach even death, whom God raised up having loosed the birth pains of Hades. In whom, not having seen, you believe with joy inexpressible and glorious, which many long to experience, knowing that by grace you have been saved, not by works, but the will of God through Jesus Christ.

Therefore {prepare yourselves}. Serve God in reverence and truth, leaving behind empty, fruitless talk and the deception of the crowd, believing in the one who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory and a throne at his right hand, to whom all things in heaven and earth are subject, whom every breathing thing worships, who is coming as judge of the living and dead, whose blood God will require from those who disobey him.

But the one who raised him from the dead also will raise us if we do his will and follow in his commandments and love the things he loved—refraining from all unrighteousness, greediness, love of money, evil speech, [and] false witness, not paying back evil for evil or abuse for abuse or blow for blow or curse for curse, but remembering what the Lord said when he taught: Do not judge so that you may not be judged; forgive and then you will be forgiven; show mercy so that you will be shown mercy; with what measure you measure out it will be measured again to you; and that blessed [are] the poor and those being persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Brothers, I write these things to you concerning righteousness {not on my own initiative}, but because you requested [it] of me.  For neither I nor another like me is able to follow after the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who, when he was with you in the presence of the people at that time, he taught the word of truth accurately and reliably, who also being absent he wrote letters to you regarding which, if you examine [them], you will be able to build yourselves up in the faith given to you,  which is the mother of all of us, while hope follows after [and] the love which [is] for God and Christ and for the neighbor goes before .

For if anyone is in their company, he has fulfilled the commandment of righteousness, for he who has love is a long way from all sin.

But the beginning of all difficulty is the love of money. Knowing, therefore, that we have brought nothing into the world, and neither are we able to take anything out, let us arm ourselves with the weapons of righteousness and let us teach ourselves first to follow in the commandment of the Lord…….