St. Polycarp of Smyrna was converted to Christianity by St. John in 80 A.D. Polycarp had the benefit of instruction by the apostles, the opportunity to talk with those who had seen Christ in his eduction and formation as a Christian. Appointed Bishop of Smyrna he became an influential leader in the Church. In a letter he wrote to the Church in Philippi, he confronted Gnosticism and reinforce Christ as having come in the flesh.

When government officials tried to suppress Catholic loyalty to God first before loyalty to the emperor, they sought out Polycarp to make him an example. Refusing to burn incense in honor of the Roman Emperor, St. Polycarp was condemned to burn at the stake, but the flames arched around him and never touched him. He was then stabbed to death, his blood quenching the flames.

As an revered martyr in Christianity, St. Polycarp of Smyrna is often depicted in artwork surrounded by flames or with a visible sword to signify his eventual means of death. Today, he is regarded as a patron saint of those with ailments such as earaches or dysentery, two things which he preached about during his life.