An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


(d. Feb. 23, 156). Bishop and martyr. He was born in the second half of the first century and became the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor (Turkey). Polycarp is listed among the “Apostolic Fathers.” Writings related to him include a letter of Polycarp to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. The letter reveals that Polycarp is in the tradition of the Fourth Gospel and Ignatius of Antioch. The Martyrdom is a letter written by the Church of Smyrna to the Church of Philomelium, describing Polycarp's heroic martyrdom. It is the oldest “martyrdom” (account of martyrdom) that has been preserved. It contains the oldest allusion to the custom of preserving relics of martyrs. His witness is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Feb. 23.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.