|Saint of the Month
Polycarp, Biship of Smyrna
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. When the Emperor Marcus Aurelius was persecuting Christians, Polycarp utterly refused to make any sacrifice to idols. 'For eighty-six years I have served Christ and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my king and saviour now?' he said.
The Roman proconsul threatened to throw him into a fire. 'You threaten me with a fire that will certainly die out. You know nothing of the eternal fire that is reserved for the wicked.' The men sent to kill him wanted to nail him to a stake, but Polycarp prevented this. Then, according to eyewitness account which has survived to this day, the flames seemed to have so little effect on the saint that his pagan enemies had him killed with a dagger. As the saint had once written in his own letter to the Philippians, the Christian martyrs should be seen as our supreme models in the pursuit of our spiritual well-being.
"To change your mind from good to bad
is the height of absurdity.
True goodness changes from evil to righteousness."
"I thank my God that I am being allowed
my share in the sufferings of his martyrs.
He who gives me strength to endure fire
will enable me to stand unmoved to the end."
From A Calendar of Saints, the Lives of the Principal
Saints of the Christian Year.