By St. Alphonsus Liguori
St. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle St. John, and was born about the seventieth year of the Christian era. He was a Christian from his infancy, and on account of his extraordinary piety was greatly beloved by the apostles, his teachers. St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, writes that he had had the good fortune, when young, to know our saint, who was then far advanced in years, and remarks how strongly impressed on his mind were the instructions which he had received from him, and with what delight he remembered having heard him recount his conversations with St. John and others who had seen the Redeemer.
St. Polycarp was consecrated Bishop of Smyrna by St. John himself before this apostle’s banishment to the Island of Patmos. It is looked upon as certain that our saint was the angel, or Bishop of Smyrna, commended by the Lord in the Apocalypse: And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write… I know thy tribulation and thy poverty; but thou art rich… Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life (Apoc. ii. 9).