Daily Martyrology for February 23

Around 155, at Smyrna, the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, bishop. According to an account of his martyrdom sent by his community to another town, a mob, having killed a young man named Germanicus, demanded the arrest of Polycarp. When he refused to deny Christ, he was put to death by the sword and his body burned in the town theater. Earlier, Ignatius of Antioch, on the way to his own martyrdom, wrote to Polycarp asking him to take care of his church. Irenaeus had met Polycarp and praised his zeal for orthodoxy. He also tells of a trip that Polycarp made to Rome to settle the date for Easter.

At Much Wenlock, about 715 AD, St. Milburga, abbess. The monastery of which she was the second abbess was destroyed by the Danes, but refounded by Cluniac monks in 1079. Her gravesite was rediscovered with the help of St. Anselm.

In the Basque country, in 1900, Blessed Raphaela Ybarra de Villalonga. She was married to an industrialist, bore him seven children and adopted the five children of her deceased sister. She devoted much effort to young girls who came to Bilbao from the countryside, When she was 47, with her husband’s agreement, she made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She started centers to feed and house young women. When she died, she was mourned by thousands, having become known as Mother Raphaela of Bilbao.

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Our daily martyrology was written by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB. Copyright © 2008 by the Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, ID 83338.