Tag Archives: Martyrdom

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Polycarp was one of the early church fathers who was martyred for his faith at a very old age. Many Christians were being martyred in those days by the order of the government. However, salvation was offered them if they would merely say “Down with the atheists!” the atheists being, of course, the Roman term for the Christians because they worshiped only one God whereas the Romans worshipped many gods. Polycarp was one of the Christians who, under the reign of either Antoninus or Marcus Aurelius, was martyred.
The martyrdom of Polycarp has great spiritual significance for Christians today. Jesus foretold this persecution on many occasions, such as in Luke 21:12 (“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name”). Yet the Christians did not try to run from it, and neither did Polycarp. He stood firm in the face of opposition and did not back. Even though he was offered the opportunity to save his own life he merely said, “For eighty-six years I have been his [Jesus’] servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Martyrs in the past, as well as many, many martyrs that die daily for the Faith prove to the world that Christianity is not a religion that can be suppressed by human hands. Martyrs are very important to us as Christians, not only for the obvious reason of showing us what an example of someone “sold out” for Christ, but also proving to us that the Christ who gave the martyrs strength to face terrible deaths is the same Christ who will give us courage to face the things in our lives that seem, rightly so, small in comparison.

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