St Polycarp and the Grain of Incense
Remembering St Polycarp today one is reminded of the nature of the persecution under the emperor Marcus Aurelius. In fact the persecution was not very severe. Christians were suspected of being disloyal to the state, so they were expected to show their loyalty by making an incense offering to the emperor–who was considered divine.
Many of the magistrates who had to enforce the edict were unhappy doing so and offered the Christians various compromises. One of them was that they could make their offering by proxy–someone else did it on their behalf or they could offer just one tiny grain of