Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
and The Martyrs of Lyon

Discussion Guide

Epistle to the Philippians
  1. How does Polycarp carry on New Testament thinking and tradition, especially the Pastoral Epistles (I & II Timothy and Titus)?
  2. What does he regard as the character necessary for martyrdom?
  3. What views does he condemn as heretical?
  4. What direction does he give for correcting another Christian?

The Martyrdom of Polycarp (ca. 155-156AD)

  1. How would you describe Polycarp's conviction? Is he heroic?
  2. Why do the Christians love him and his bones? Is this an acceptable practice?
  3. Does his prayer have Eucharistic qualities as note 20 suggests?
  4. Likewise, does his death have Eucharistic qualities?
  5. How is Christ the proto-martyr?

The Martyrs of Lyon (ca. 177AD)

  1. Why do the authors describe the events as a spiritual battle?
  2. What are some of the motivations of the martyrs and of their persecutors?
  3. What is ironic about what happens to the apostates? Are the authors right to see it the way they do?
  4. What things in the account did you find most surprising?
  5. What is the spiritual benefit of martyrdom?

General Questions for Reflection

  • Is martyrdom admirable? Why or why not?
  • What would you do in the martyrs' places?
  • Is apostasy a sin? Why or why not?

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding