Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saint Polycarp and the Great Fire of Smyrna

St. Polycarp Extinguishing the Great Fire of Smyrna (Church of Saint Polycarp, Izmir)

In the Great Synaxaristes we read of the following miracle of Saint Polycarp:

It happened that a great and terrible conflagration broke out in Smyrna. Not only within the city were people and homes consumed in the path of the flames, but also in the surrounding pasturage, sown fields, vineyards, trees and animals. This evil swept the area for seven days and nights. The mindless and benighted idolaters invoked the help of their gods, but for nought did the hapless ones toil. It seemed the more they besought their images, the wrath of God and the fire intensified. 

Thereupon, the Christians hastened to the Saint. They implored him to utter a prayer to the Lord that the destructive burning should halt. The Saint took pity on their circumstances and offered up entreaty to the Lord. He then censured the idol worshipers, saying that the evil came upon them on account of their impiety, that is, their refusal to believe in the true God. The man of God then turned to the fire and said, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ before Whom I, the unworthy one, worship and fall down, I command you, O fire, to cease immediately this very hour and to be completely quenched."

Then - O the wonder! - instantly, that raging fire was entirely extinguished and vanished. The bystanders marveled at these events and began shouting in a great voice, "Great is the God of the Christians!" Consequently, many of the idol-mad came to believe in the Christ. They were baptized to the glory of our true God.


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