Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

clopotul-150x150 POLICARP, IN SMIRNA ( now Izmar, Turkey), 23 Feb. AD 168

The kindly, old man entered the arena under armed guard. The stands were filled with an angry mob; their shouts filled the air. Once inside the arena, the soldiers quickly brought Polycarp before the Roman proconsul. Polycarp, the well-known bishop of Smirna, was the last living link with the 12 Apostles, as he had studied under John. As soon as the crowd learned that this famous bishop had been arrested, a great cheer went up.

The proconsul tried to get Polycarp to deny Jesus Christ: "Swear by the fortune of Caesar. Take the oath and I will release you. Curse Christ!".

The bishop stood firm. "Eighty-six years I have  served the Lord Jesus Christ , and He never once wronged me. How can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?"

The proconsul threatened, "I have wild beasts ready, and I will throw you to them if you do not change your mind".  - "Let them come, for my purpose is unchangeable", replied Polycarp. - "If the wild beasts don't scare you, then I will burn you with fire", said the proconsul. - "You threaten me with a fire which will burn for an hour and then will go out, but you are ignorant of the fire of the future judgement of God reserved for the everlasting torment of the ungodly. But why do you delay? Bring on the beasts, or the fire, or whatever you choose; you shall not move me to deny Christ, my Lord and Savior".

When the proconsul saw that Policarp wound not recant, he sent the herald to proclaim three times in the middle of the stadium, "Polycarp had professed himself a Christian." As soon as they heard these words, the whole multitude of Gentiles and Jews furiously demanded that he should be burned alive. Immediately dry wood was brought out and heaped in the centre of the arena for a bonfire. When they were about to nail him to the stake, Polycarp said, "Leave me as I am; He who gives me strength to endure the fire will enable me to remain still within the fire". They agreed to this and simply tied his hands behind his back with a rope.

In his final prayer, Policarp prayed, "O Father, I thank You, that You have called me to this day and hour and have counted me worthy to receive my place among the number of the holy martyrs. Amen". As soon as he uttered the word, "Amen", the officers lit the fire. The flames rose high above his body, but miraculously, he was not burned. Those who watched said, "He was in the midst of the fire, not as burning flesh but as gold and silver refined in a furnace. And we smelled such a sweet aroma as of incence of some other precious spice".

Since the fire did not hurt him, the executioner was ordered to stab him with a sward and his blood put out the fire.

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