Polycarp

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Polycarp


Saint of the Month

A Saint is referred to in the Bible as someone who believes and follows Jesus. Historically a Saint is a special person of note who has served God in a very significant way. The Churches honour the person and his/her dedication to God. Anglicans do not make Saints like the Roman Catholic Church does. We do however wish to honour and remember those who have served God in the past. In this column you will learn about the Saints of long past as well as Saints of the Yukon. Alongside a short biography there will be prayers and readings if your Church would wish to learn of this Saint of God and a suggested date to do this. It is also hoped that these reading would encourage small groups of people to gather to learn and discuss our rich heritage and history in the Church and in the Yukon.

Saint of the Month - February

Polycarp

Remembered February 23 Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, 156 - Memorial February The whole Church joins in honouring Polycarp, a bishop who was martyred on this date in the year 156. For over forty years he guided the Christians of Smyrna, a city on the western coast of Asia Minor, and brought healing wisdom to issues which divided the churches at that time.

When the Roman authorities suddenly launched a campaign of terror against the Church, Polycarp went into hiding, but was soon discovered and brought back to face the pagan governor before a large crowd in the public arena. The governor urged him to renounce the Christian faith and to curse Jesus Christ. Polycarp answered: "For eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blasphemy against my King and Saviour?" At this he was bound to a stake and, as he prayed, the wood at his feet was set ablaze. Eyewitnesses reported that the flames did not touch him, but formed a kind of vault around his body, so that a gladiator had to be sent into the fire to kill him.

Afterwards his people gathered his remains and buried them in a cemetary outside the city. Every year, on the anniversary of his martyrdom, they celebrated the eucharist at Polycarp's grave, "both as a memorial for those who have already fought the contest and for the training and preparation of those who will do so in the future."

Image: Michael Burghers, original engraving 1685 (file from the Wikimedia Commons)

If you wish to celebrate the example of his life in Christ the following readings and collect may be used:

Sentence
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3.8

Collect
Maker of heaven and earth,
your love blazed so strongly
in the heart of your servant Polycarp
that he won eternal life
out of the devouring flames of persecution.
By this memorial of his courage,
grant us such confidence in your promises,
that we may share in the surpassing joy
of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings
2 Maccabees 6.18-28, 31 Psalm 116.10-17
Refrain I will lift the cup of salvation.
Matthew 20.20-23

Prayer over the Gifts
O God,
who bestowed the honour of martyrdom
on your holy servant Polycarp,
make us so truly prepared
to offer this service of thanks and praise,
that we may bear witness to your power
and share in the fullness of your love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ the Lord.

Preface of a Martyr

Prayer after Communion
Merciful God,
grant us so to reverence Christ
as your only and eternal Son,
and to love the martyrs who followed him unto death,
that we may share with them
as fellow disciples in his paschal mystery.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

All of the above information is taken from:
For All the Saints
Prayers and Readings for Saints' Days
According to the Calendar of the
Book of Alternative Services of the
Anglican Church of Canada
compiled by
Stephen Reynolds
Anglican Book Centre
Toronto, 1994

Saint of Month - Index