One of the most famous martyrs in church history, Polycarp was burned at the stake around A.D. 155 for refusing to reject the Christian faith. According to the story, though, the Romans were a tad surprised when the fire didn’t hurt him at all. So the executioner had to stab him instead.
In addition to his martyrdom, Polycarp is best known as one of he last people to have direct contact with the apostles. Several early authors report that Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle in his youth. Combined with his long life–he was approximately 86 when he died–Polycarp thus served as an important point of connection between the New Testament church and the church of the second century.
In honor of Polycarp’s life and faithful death, here is the prayer that he his reported to have prayed right before his death.
O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence;
I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of [Thy] Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit.
May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art the faithful and true God.
For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen.’