John the Apostle to Polycarp

How much does the Church know about the transmission from John the Apostle to St. Polycarp? What happened between these times?

What do you mean by the question?

John certainly taught Polycarp, as well as Ignatius. Polycarp taught Ireneaus.

But what happened to the Church? She preached the Word. She suffered and was persecuted. She grew!

How does the Church know John taught Polycarp?

From the Letter of Irenaeus (a student of Polycarp’s) to Florinus:

For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul%between%, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse— his going out, too, and his coming in— his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God’s mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God’s grace%between%, revolving these things accurately in my mind. [emphasis mine]

I have also heard it said (‘piously supposed’ rather than any kind of Church official teaching I’m guessing) that the boy who Jesus takes on His shoulders when teaching the apostles (“whoever would become great among you must be like this child”) that boy was Polycarp. That would suggest that he was among the first Christians to be raised in the faith from childhood.

As an aside, why isn’t he St Polycarp? Did he teach some heresy?

I don’t think this is possible, in the timeline of things. Wasn’t Polycarp born later than Jesus’ lifetime.

As an aside, why isn’t he St Polycarp? Did he teach some heresy?

I thought he was St. Polycarp. Given accounts of his death, it would seem he was canonized.

BTW, Here’s some information on St. Polycarp from Catholic Encyclopedia. It seems he was born 36 years or so after Jesus’ death, so if it was him on Jesus’ shoulders, well, then that WOULD be a miracle!!! :smiley:

St. Polycarp

[Martyr]("") (A.D. 69-155).  

Our chief sources of information concerning St. Polycarp are: (1) the Epistles of St. Ignatius; (2) St. Polycarp’s own Epistle to the Philippians; (3) sundry passages in St. Irenæus; (4) the Letter of the Smyrnaeans recounting the martyrdom of St. Polycarp.

I heard that that was Ignatius, not Polycarp

and no this is not authoritative

though I think he’s too young too

I think its just a legend

Eusibius ‘History of the Church’ may help you (written in the third century).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit