Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna, modern day Izmir, Turkey. Before dying as a martyr, Polycarp was recognized a leader by the Christians in Asia Minor. Because of his position in the church, the death of Polycarp is one of the first and best recorded and documented deaths of a Christian martyr.
Polycarp was brought to the faith by the Apostle John. He also knew the Apostle Paul. The Apostle John, the only Disciple of Jesus to die a natural death, died at an advanced age at Ephesus c. A.D. 100 bringing an end to the "Age of the Apostles" considered to run from A.D. 33, with Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven after his death and Resurrection, to A.D. 100, at John’s death.
Polycarp belonged to the generation of church leaders who followed and had known and been taught by the Apostles themselves. Many second century Christians looked to Polycarp as a living link to the Apostles. One of these was Polycarp’s disciple Irenaeus. St. Ignatius of Antioch was his friend and contemporary.
During his lifetime, Polycarp wrote, taught and fought for the faith, defending it against the many heresies that tried to creep in with the passing of the Apostles.