"O God, the Father of Your Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of You, the maker of all creation, I call upon You, I confess that You are true God; I glorify You because of the high priest, Your beloved Son, with the Holy Spirit; receive me and make me a sharer in the resurrection of Your saints. Amen."
-St. Polycarp's dying prayer (excerpt from The Treasury of Daily Prayer)
St. Polycarp, said to have been a disciple of St. John the Beloved, is one of the most famous Apostolic Fathers. He is most remembered for his martyrdom, a vivid account of which was recorded by his own disciple, Irenaeus. During his life, Polycarp fought Marcionism and Valentinianism and the heretic Cerinthus, all forms of gnosticism. In his Letter to the Philippian, Polycarp makes a beautiful profession:
"For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist: and whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of Satan."
Here the full account of Polycarp's martyrdom.
*Have your older children research the heresies Polycarp fought against. Maybe you can have them report their findings to the rest of the family at dinner. How are all the heresies similar to each other? What Bible passages or verses can be used to refute those errors?
*Have your older children read Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians. Have them find key Christian doctrines he defends (Christ's divinity, authority of Scripture, etc.)
*Irenaeus made a big deal of Polycarp's great age. Visit an grandparent or elderly neighbor today; honoring the aged would be a great way to remember Polycarp.
*For your younger kids, expand on your discussion of martyrdom from St. Valentine's feast.