Polycarp, Saint, martyr, and Bishop of Smyrna, was instructed in the Christian religion by the apostles themselves, and became attached to John the Evangelist, who made him Bishop of Smyrna in 96 A.D. There is nothing known of St.
Polycarp's early life or of his personal history, but he was probably born in Asia Minor. He ruled his see for many years, and received St. Ignatius when the latter journeyed from Antioch to Rome. In the year 158, then a very old man, he went to the Holy City to confer with Pope Anicetus about the celebration of Easter Day. He objected to the Western practice of holding it on the anniversary of the resurrection, but the result of the conference was simply to leave the East and West to their former methods of celebration. While in Rome Polycarp converted many of the followers of Marcio and Valentine from their heresies. He was held in the highest reverence by Christendom, and was considered head of the Asiatic bishops. He held the see for seventy years, and at length was ordered to be burnt by the Roman Governor for refusing to renounce Christ. His reply was, "Eighty-and-six years have I served Him, and He never did me wrong, and how can I betray my King who saved me ?" His bones were gathered by his disciples and preserved. The record of his martyrdom is to be found in the letter from the Christians of Smyrna to the church of Pontus. His beautiful Epistle to the Philippians, though its authenticity has been disputed, is a noble relic of the times.