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February 23

St Polycarp - February 23

Saint Polycarp

Bishop, Martyr

(Around 69 – 155)

“Beware of greed and remain pure and just. Restrain yourself from every vice. He who cannot restrain himself, how will he be able to teach others restraint?

Saint Polycarp

Saint’s Life Story

Little Known of Polycarp

Polycarp was born around 69.  Few details of his life are known, except for his famous martyrdom chronicled in the Martyrium Polycarpi or the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Polycarp was also a disciple of Saint John the Apostle, one of Jesus’ disciples.  Saint John is reported to have converted Polycarp to the faith in 80. Then, in 96, Saint John consecrated Polycarp as Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp’s own Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians gives us some insights to the early usage of the New Testament from the quotes used within his letter.

His Friends – Saint Ignatious of Antioch and Saint Papias

According to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Polycarp was a companion of Saint Papias and a friend of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius addressed a letter to him and mentions him in his letters to the Ephesians and to the Magnesians. When Saint Ignatius was being taken to Rome to be put to death, he wrote of Polycarp being clothed “with the garment of grace”.  Toward the end of Polycarp’s life, he went to Rome and visited Pope Anicetus to discuss a date for Easter. 

Arrested and Martyrdom

Soon after this trip, Polycarp was arrested by Roman officials when the persecution of Christians broke out under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Polycarp refused to sacrifice to the gods and acknowledge the Emperor’s divinity, telling the Romans that he had served Christ for 86 years. So, Polycarp was ordered to be burned alive. When the flames failed to consume Polycarp, he was speared to death on February 23, 155, in Smyrna in what is now Turkey.   

The “Acts” of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. Since the persecutors did not permit the Christians to recover the remains of Polycarp, they stole the martyr’s bones! This is considered to be one of the earliest examples of the veneration of relics.

Church Father

Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. Polycarp is also regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers, along with Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         February 23

Patron Saint:    Relief from Earaches, Those with Ailments



Have you heard the saying “Let’s agree to disagree?” That is exactly what Saint Polycarp had to do when he and Pope Anicetus could not agree on the date for Easter.

Do you “agree to disagree” instead of holding grudges and being angry when an argument cannot be settled? Ask the Lord for assistance when having a discussion or argument with another. With the Lord’s assistance, you can learn to disagree and argue fairly without losing important relationships.

Source: Saint Polycarp (c.69-c.155) | Saint Mary’s Press (


Saint Polycarp, you witnessed to the truth of Jesus Christ in your own life leading and feeding your flock at Smyrna.  Eventually, in your martyrdom, you stood true to God’s word until your last dying day. Make us steadfast witnesses to the God’s truth in our words and kind deeds throughout every day of our life.  Through your intercession, make our commitment to our religion, a life project, enduring until our life of faith concludes with a death of faith.

 Saint Polycarp, Pray for us.  Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Newest Doctor of the Church heard St. Polycarp, disciple of John the Apostle

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Polycarp of Smyrna – Martyr

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 26 January – Saint Polycarp (69-155) Martyr – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. January 26 St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr

Catholic Culture – The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians by St Polycarp

Catholic Exchange – St. Polycarp

Catholic Fire – St. Polycarp: Man of Piety and Fortitude

Catholic Ireland – Feb 23 – St Polycarp – c69-155AD

Catholic News Agency – St. Polycarp of Smyrna Feast Day: Feb 23

Catholic Online – St. Polycarp

Independent Catholic News – St Polycarp

Loyola Press – Saint Polycarp Feast Day February 23

My Catholic Life – Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr c69–c. 155

New Advent – Bacchus, F.J. (1911). St. Polycarp. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

National Catholic Register – St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr, Pray For Us

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Polycarp’s Story

Saint of the Day – February 23 St. Polycarp

uCatholic – Saint Polycarp


Video Link

St. Polycarp – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)