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St. Polycarp

Bishop, Martyr

January 26

From the book of St. Jerome, Priest, on Church Writers

Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle, was ordained by John as bishop of Smyrna. He was considered as foremost among all the bishops of Asia Minor, since he had seen several of the Apostles and others who had seen the Lord, and had been taught by them. He went to Rome when Antoninus Pius was emperor and Anicetus was Pope, to discuss some questions concerning the date of Easter. Here he brought back to the faith many believers who had been deceived by the persuasiveness of Marcion and Valentinus.

When Marcion met Polycarp one day by chance and asked him, “Do you know me?”, he answered, “Yes, I know the firstborn of the devil!” Later on, when the proconsul was presiding at Smyrna, in the reign of Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus and during the fourth persecution after Nero, the whole populace gathered in the ampitheater cried out against Polycarp, and he was given up to be burned. He wrote a very edifying letter to the Philippians which is still read today in the churches of Asia.

Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. I: Advent to Passion Sunday (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1725-1726.

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Epistle and Gospel for January 26