Volume III - Church History

Second Century

The Apostolic Fathers

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

Among the most famous of the Christian leaders and martyrs of the second century were the bishops Saint Clement of Rome (d. c. 102), Saint Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 110), and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (d. c. 157). Their writings, along with the Didache (the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles), the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the stirring Account of the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, which strongly attests to the veneration of martyrs and their relics, comprise the literature known as the Apostolic Fathers. Written in the years ­immediately after the era of the original Apostles, these invaluable writings provide a fascinating glimpse into what the Church believed, how it was structured, and how the Christians lived and worshiped in these early years. As such, these writings can be considered the sequel to the Book of Acts, and to the New Testament writings in general.