06/22/2023 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – It is our privilege to introduce you to a new segment that we’ll be featuring monthly: Crowns of Courage: Inspiration from memorable martyrs. Here, we will share the incredible testimonies of both historical and modern-day believers who have paid the ultimate price for their faith.
This month, we are featuring the inspiring Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, a Christian leader in the second century, who was a disciple of the apostle John. Through his writings, he openly denounced various heresies that had taken root in the church.
After Polycarp’s many faithful years of service in the church, the Roman proconsul ordered him to renounce his faith. Holding fast to the promise of eternity, Polycarp clung to his faith, knowing the brutal consequences to come, by saying, “For eighty and six years I have been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. And how can I now blaspheme my King who saved me?”
He offered up a prayer, and his captors soon bound him, intending to burn him alive. Yet, to their surprise, he would not die. As Polycarp stood in the flames, the scene was described “not as burning flesh, but as bread that is being baked, or as gold and silver being refined in a furnace.” Eventually, an executioner stabbed Polycarp with a dagger, which ultimately brought about his death.
Following Polycarp’s martyrdom, a group of believers gathered his scorched bones in remembrance. In the years that followed, on the anniversary of his death, they gathered to remember what they referred to as his “birthday.” Here, they would rejoice over the legacy of his enduring faithfulness, not yet knowing that his testimony would be shared for centuries to come.
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