Today's Saint (January 26): Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr
Polycarp was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, and subsequently the bishop of Smyrna in the mid-2nd century.
Having lived into his eighties before he was martyred by fire, Polycarp is an important link between the Apostles and those of the early Church, as he knew John the Evangelist, who knew John the Apostle, who knew the resurrected Christ.
Learning about early Christians shows to us that our Faith is grounded on historical fact. Polycarp prayed for his persecutors at his martyrdom, making him a good example for us.
We, too, need to pray for those who mock the Christian faith, that by prayer and good deeds the enemies of the Cross of Christ may be converted to the Truth of the Gospel - no matter the cost to us personally, remembering the words of the epistle, that "hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (The day's epistle, page E21, People's Anglican Missal)
Books Worth Considering
The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Their Blood Cries Out
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom and of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church