Martyred by the Romans: Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp = superhero

Polycarp = superhero

Wow, how did I miss this one? Two pages stuck together? Who knows. Maybe I skimmed it too quickly, thinking it was a long diatribe by one of the church fathers. Anyway, I somehow missed the ancient tale of Polycarp, aka Asbestos Man.

Somewhere around 168 A.D., the Martyrs Mirror reports that one Polycarp, bishop of the church of Smyrna, drew the ire of the local authorities. Polycarp, legend has it, saw his death coming. He dreamed he saw the pillow, on which his head lay, consumed by fire. From then on, he knew he was going to die in a fire.

Not exactly.

Polycarp tried to outrun The Man, but they caught up with him at a friend’s house. When the thugs came for him, he greeted them at the door with a smile and served them lunch. While they ate, he said his prayers. The men then put him on a donkey and took him to the city, where he was met by the local potentate. The city officials urged him to deny Christ and worship the Emperor; he refused; they abused him; yadda yadda yadda.

Polycarp was taken to the amphitheater to be executed, where we have to endure another round of threats from the executioner and a great many more pious ramblings from Polycarp. Eventually, the executioner elects to barbecue the 86-year-old man. Polycarp strips naked, has his hands tied and is laid on the pyre.

But as the flames rise around him, he isn’t harmed much. Supernatural, or bad fire building? You decide.

This was not a welcome development for the executioner, so he ordered one of his agents to stab old Polycarp with a sword. According to the Mirror, a great deal of blood gushed from the wound, extinguishing the fire, and Polycarp the vampire was finally silenced.

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One Response to “Martyred by the Romans: Polycarp of Smyrna”

  1. […] first tale reads a lot like that of Polycarp (who I’ve recounted here). Call him “Asbestos Man II.” While being wheeled to his fiery execution on a cart, […]

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