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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Jerome and Gennadius. Lives of Illustrious Men.: Polycrates the bishop.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XLV.

Polycrates 2454 bishop of the Ephesians with other bishops of Asia who in accordance with some ancient custom celebrated the passover with the Jews on the fourteenth of the month, wrote a synodical letter against Victor bishop of Rome in which he says that he follows the authority of the apostle John and of the ancients. From this we make the following brief quotations, “We therefore celebrate the day according to usage, inviolably, neither adding anything to nor taking anything from it, for in Asia lie the remains of the greatest saints of those who shall rise again on the day of the Lord, when he shall come in majesty from heaven and shall quicken all the saints, I mean Philip one of the twelve apostles who sleeps at Hierapolis and his two daughters who were virgins until their death and another daughter of his who died at Ephesus full of the Holy Spirit. And John too, who lay on Our Lord’s breast and was his high priest carrying the golden frontlet on his forehead, both martyr and doctor, fell asleep at Ephesus and Polycarp bishop and martyr died at Smyrna. Thraseas of Eumenia also, bishop and martyr, rests in the same Smyrna. What need is there of mentioning Sagaris, bishop and martyr, who sleeps in Laodicea and the blessed Papyrus and Melito, eunuch in the Holy Spirit, who, ever serving the Lord, was laid to rest in Sardis and there awaits his resurrection at Christ’s advent. These all observed the day of the passover on the fourteenth of the month, in nowise departing from the evangelical tradition and following the ecclesiastical canon. I also, Polycrates, the least of all your servants, according to the doctrine of my relatives which I also have followed (for there were seven of my relatives bishops indeed and I the eighth) have always celebrated the passover when the Jewish people celebrated the putting away of the leaven. And so brethren being sixty-five years old in the Lord and instructed by many brethren from all parts of the world, and having searched all the Scriptures, I will not fear those who threaten us, for my predecessors said “It is fitting to obey God rather than men.” I quote this to show through a small example the genius and authority of the man. He flourished in the reign of the emperor Severus in the same period as Narcissus of Jerusalem.



Bishop about 196.

Next: Heraclitus.

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