Saint Polycarp: A Witness to Relics

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Polycarp. 

Martyrdom of St. Polycarp

Martyrdom of St. Polycarp

By Michael Kenny on Journey towards Easter.

In the annals of the early Church we have a substantial and important record of the beliefs and practice of early Christians, as well as the incredible witness they provided to the Faith through evangelisation and martyrdom. Persecution of Christians was rife in the Church during the first three centuries, and one of the earliest to bear witness to their faith in this way was Saint Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp is important for several reasons: firstly, according to Tertullian, he was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, and thus bore direct witness to the faith of the Apostles.

Secondly, he made many converts amongst the Gnostics because of his personal holiness and witness to the apostolic teaching, and through his martyrdom, gained even greater credibility amongst the people. Thirdly (and this is linked to the second point), the description of his martyrdom provides us with very early evidence for not just the veneration of saints, but the preservation and veneration of their relics…

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4 Responses to Saint Polycarp: A Witness to Relics

  1. mkenny114 says:

    Thank you for the re-blog 🙂


  2. kathleen says:

    You’re welcome. 🙂
    You have given us a very profound and insightful article on the importance of relics in the life of the Church. Strangely this is something I’ve discovered that is not often understood even by Catholics!


  3. I fear we are heading towards another Church-wide persecution in the near future. St Polycarp, pray for us.


  4. mkenny114 says:

    Thank you – that is most kind and I am very thankful that the post has been found to be helpful in any way. And yes, the issue of relics is one oft-misunderstood, even by Catholics! There is a short essay by Bl. John Henry Newman on the same topic somewhere, but I can’t recall at the moment (think may be an appendix to the Apologia Pro Vita Sua). Anyway, it is very instructive 🙂


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