Chapter XVII.—The Christians are
refused Polycarp’s body.
But when the adversary of
the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one,
perceived the impressive463463 nature of his martyrdom,
and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and
how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond
dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least
memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do
this, and to become possessors464464 of his holy flesh.
For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother
of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be
buried, “lest,” said he, “forsaking Him
that was crucified, they begin to worship this one.” This
he said at the suggestion and urgent persuasion of the Jews, who also
watched us, as we sought to take him out of the fire, being ignorant of
this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who
suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole
world (the blameless one for sinners465465), nor to worship any other. For Him
indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples
and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their
extraordinary466466 affection towards their own King
and Master, of whom may we also be made companions467467 and fellow-disciples!