A pupil of Apostle John. In the persecution ordered by the Roman Emperor he was arrested and brought before the Governor, and when offered his freedom if he would curse Christ, he replied "Eighty six years have I served Christ and He has done me
nothing but good; how then could I curse Him, my Lord and Savior? " He was
Marcus Aurelius, who reigned from 161 to 180 A.D poured out bitter persecutions upon the followers of Christ. He was determined to restore the ancient religious practices and the old Roman way of life. He sought to suppress Christianity them by force. He used many cruel means in putting believers to death. A prominent martyr during his reign was
An account of the arrest, trial, conviction, and martyrdom of Polycarp, written after his death by one or more members of his
congregation. Polycarp was arrested, and tried on the charge of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing Christ, he replied: "Eighty six years have I served Christ and He has done me nothing but good; how then could I curse Him, my Lord and Savior? " The magistrate was reluctant to kill a a gentle old man, but he had no choice.
Polycarp was sentenced to be burned. As he waited for the fire to be lighted, he
prayed to the effect:
I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be
numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for soul and body in the
incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice,
just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things
I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved
child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for
the ages to come. Amen.
"When he had pronounced this amen, and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we, to whom it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle, and have been preserved that we might report to others what then took place. For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind, encompassed as by a circle the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold and silver glowing in a furnace. Moreover, we perceived such a sweet
odor [coming from the pile], as if frankincense or some such precious spices had been smoking there."
"At length, when those wicked men perceived that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded an executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. And on his doing this, there came forth a dove, and a great quantity of blood, so that the fire was extinguished."
His friends gave his remains honorable burial, and wrote an account of his death to other churches.
various web sites.
more information on Christian martyrs today and yesterday, go to www.vom.org.