These men inspire me to follow Jesus with all my heart and make a difference in my generation. I hope this post will make you want to learn more about these amazing saints!
Saint Polycarp (69-155), bishop of Smyrna, was mentored by Apostle John the Beloved. He pastored his flock faithfully in the midst of terrible persecution, but managed to make it to the age of 86. At this point, the Emperor decided to execute Polycarp, but gave him permission to recant his faith in Christ. When he heard he was a wanted man, he refused to flee, but waited patiently for the soldiers to take him to the arena. When asked to recant, he replied, "86 years I have served him and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.
Saint Eusebius (260-340), bishop of Caesarea, is considered the Father of Church History. He escaped execution during Emperor Diocletian's "Great Persecution," but was imprisoned. After Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan, Eusebius returned to pastoring his flock. Today, we remember him for Ecclesiastical History, a 10-volume work covered Church history from Jesus to his time. I read this book and I love it! It's so awesome to read about the early church! In addition, he wrote a 15-volume work explaining how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Christ. He also wrote a history of the world.
Saint Nicholas (270-343), bishop of Myra in Asia Minor is remembered for his kind heart and generosity. He loved children and they loved him. During the "Great Persecution" of Emperor Diocletian, he was imprisoned and exiled. Saint Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea, a defender of Orthodoxy, defending the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, and Incarnation of Christ. He boldly denounced the heresies of Arius.
Saint Athanasius (296-373), the Archbishop of Alexandria, was exiled five times for his strong stand on the Deity of Christ and the Trinity. When the Church was divided over the heretical teachings of Arius who claimed that Jesus was not always one with the Father, Saint Athanasius firmly stood his ground on the Word of God. Throughout Christendom, there were fierce arguments. Emperor Constantine finally had enough and he called for a church council at Nicaea where the Nicene Creed was hashed out as a answer to Arius' heresy. Athanasius' works on the Incarnation of Christ helped to lay a strong foundation for sound doctrine in the Church.