Theo 60250: Martyrdom Analysis

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Michele Gelaude Friday, June 26, 2015
THEO 60250: Intro to Early Church Themes within the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp

Martyrdom, having its prominence during the third and fourth centuries, lasted for approximately 300 years under many different rulers. Emperors were intolerant toward Christianity and responded by putting Christians on trial, asking them to deny their faith or lose their life. The Christian martyrs who clung to their Christian faith showed the Spirit at work with their depth of discipleship. Similar to the martyrdom of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Perpetua, and Felicity, Saint Polycarp exemplified themes of Liturgy, veneration of the martyrs, and imitation of Christ. However, the narrative of Polycarp’s martyrdom
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Each martyr, as a core reason for his or her sacrifice, sought after this theme. However, Polycarp fulfilled the true imitation of Christ. Ignatius of Antioch poured forth saying, “Let me imitate the Passion of my God,” acknowledging that it would lead him to his vocation as a true disciple. And Felicity, after being questioned about her ability to take suffering after giving birth to her child, said about the day of sacrifice, “Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I am about to suffer for Him.” A predominate different with Polycarp is that his martyrdom aligned with the strong similarities to Christ’s Passion. Polycarp, “waited to be betrayed, just as the Lord did, to the end that we may also be imitators of him, ‘not looking only to that which concerns ourselves, but also to that which concerns our neighbors.’” Polycarp, while praying for “all men and for the churches throughout the world,” received his call to martyrdom through a vision. He modeled the deep prayer of Christ; however, never asked for another plan for his life. Like Christ, Polycarp experienced betrayal and arrest, being found in a small cottage by the police. When challenged to deny his faith, he refused, saying, “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” In his testimonial prayer, Polycarp said, “I bless thee, because thou hast deemed me worthy of this day and hour, to take my part in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ.” His persecution mirrored that of Christ’, with the crowds cheering for his persecution , the use of his body as an “acceptable sacrifice.” Polycarp was given a miracle of being incorruptible, for his body was preserved in the fire, prompting the executioner to stab Polycarp. Upon being stabbed with a

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