Bishop of Smyrna. Martyr. This 2nd century saint was a disciple of St John the Evangelist and an important link between the time of the Apostles and the earliest Christians. He was very elderly when he was arrested, during the persecutions of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
His captors tried to force him to make sacrifices to idols but he refused, saying: "For 86 years I have served Christ and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king and saviour now."
The Romans threw him into a fire, but he told them: "You threaten me with a fire that will certainly burn out. You know nothing of the eternal fire that is reserved for the wicked."
According to eyewitnesses, the flames had so little effect on him they had to kill him with a dagger.
St Polycarp wrote this prayer:
'God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Increase us in faith and truth and gentleness,
and grant us part and lot among the saints.'