On the twenty-third of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Hieromartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.
Polycarp sacrificed himself for You O Word,
Bearing much fruit in a strange manner by being bound to the fire.
On the twenty-third Polycarp was burned in the flames.
Saint Polycarp was a close disciple of John the Theologian and Evangelist, together with Ignatius the God-bearer. He became Bishop of Smyrna after Saint Boukolos, who had prophesied concerning the episcopacy he was to receive. When the impious Antoninus Pius (138-161)* instituted a persecution against the Christians in the year 143, then this divine Polycarp was captured and brought before the proconsul, namely the second under the highest in command. Having boldly confessed Christ, he was perfected in martyrdom by fire, and so the blessed one received from the Lord the unfading crown of martyrdom.
This Saint also received from the Lord the grace of wonderworking. Thus before he became a Hierarch, through his prayers he filled the storerooms with grain of that woman that raised him, whose storerooms he had beforehand emptied and distributed for the needs of the poor brethren. After he became a Hierarch, he prevailed over a rapid fire, and through his prayers brought rain upon the earth during a time of drought, and he also prevented the rain from being too excessive. His Synaxis is celebrated in the most-holy Great Church.**
* The Synaxaristes mistakenly says it took place during the reign of Decius, who lived in the mid-third century. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite informs us that this should be replaced with Antoninus Pius.
** Portions of his Holy Skull are located in the Monastery of Proussos in Evrytania, the Monastery of the Prophet Elias in Arachova and the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Phyli. His Sacred Right Hand is in the Monastery of Panagia Ambelakiotissa in Nafpaktos (though it is currently missing, having been stolen in 2013). A portion of his Sacred Relics are in the Church of Saint George of the Greeks in Venice.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As thou didst share in the ways of the apostles and didst occupy their throne, thou didst find thine activity to be a passage to divine vision, O divinely inspired one. Wherefore, ordering the word of truth, thou didst suffer for the Faith even to the shedding of thy blood. O hieromartyr Polycarp, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Offering sacrifices of the virtues unto the Lord as spiritual fruits, O wise Polycarp, thou wast therefore glorified by God as a worthy hierarch. Wherefore, enlightened today by thy words, we hymn thy praiseworthy memory, glorifying the Lord.