Poltcarp, one of the early Christian fathers, born of a Christian family probably in Smyrna soon after the middle of the 1st century, put to death in 168 or 169. He was educated at the expense of Callisto, a noble Christian lady of Smyrna, and became a disciple of St. John the evangelist, who on the death of Bucolus consecrated him to the bishopric of his native city. During the controversy about the celebration of Easter he went to consult Anicetus, bishop of Rome, against whom he defended the practice of the eastern church; and he distinguished himself while at Rome by his opposition to the Marcian and Valentinian heresies. During the persecution under Marcus Aurelius he was brought before the Roman proconsul at Smyrna, and when urged to curse Christ, he replied: " Six and eighty years have I served him, and he has done me nothing but good, and how could I curse him, my Lord and Saviour? If you would know what I am, I tell you frankly, I am a Christian." At these words the populace cried out that he should die at the stake, and hastened to bring fuel. He refused to be fastened, and met his fate with fortitude and calmness.
Polycarp wrote several homilies and epistles, all of which are now lost except a short epistle to the Philip-pians, chiefly valuable as a means of proving, by its use of Scriptural phraseology, the authenticity of most of the books of the New Testament. In the time of St. Jerome it was publicly read in the Asiatic churches.