Mike Aquilina

‘Carping Again

Friday February 23rd 2007, 7:32 am

Happy St. Polycarp day! He’s one of the Apostolic Fathers — a disciple of St. John the Apostle and the master of St. Irenaeus of Lyons. We possess a letter from St. Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp, plus a letter from Polycarp to the Philippians, plus an account of Polycarp’s martyrdom written shortly after the event. We also know a bit about his life from the reminiscences of Irenaeus and the snippets preserved in Eusebius. The story of his martyrdom is a powerful witness to the “eucharistic” sense of the early martyrs. Polycarp’s last prayer reads like an anaphora from the liturgy and even ends with a doxology. When the flames consume his body, he gives off not the stench of burning flesh, but the aroma of baking bread. Polycarp gave himself completely, as Christ gives Himself completely in the Eucharist — and as we are trying to give ourselves this Lent. I have an MP3 of my KVSS interview on Polycarp on my audio page.