When told that his life would be spared if he but swear by Caesar and curse Christ, he responded, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? ... You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but you are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. Why do you hesitate? Bring forth what you will."
Polycarp's courage at that moment was a participation in Jesus' own when facing the Cross - and God did not want the Church or the world to miss that truth: the magistrate who had Polycarp hunted and taken into custody bore the name Herod, and he had Polycarp led into the city on a donkey - like Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.