St. Polycarp of Smyrna

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Polycarp was an early Bishop of Smyrna, a Church Father, and one of the three main Apostolic Fathers, along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch. His name means “much fruit” in Greek. Both Irenaeus (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses III.3) and Tertullian (Tertullian, De praescriptione hereticorum 32.2) say that Polycarp had been a disciple of John the Apostle.  Irenaeus also says that he himself had been a hearer of Polycarp. Irenaeus reports that Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a presbyter, and communicated with many who had seen Jesus.  According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to consume his body.  The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians is the sole surviving work of Polycarp and the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp is considered one of the earliest genuine accounts of a Christian martyrdom.

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