The Church of St. Polycarp

St. Polycarp's church is oldest existing Catholic Church to be established in Izmir. around the year 1620, Ottoman Government gave permission for construction of chapel, which was dedicated to St. Polycarp, where Catholics could celebrate their liturgy. At first it was located in the grounds of the French Consulate. But not much later, in 1630, a capuchin Friary ans a church were built. The Church was raised tothe status of a parish for the French speaking community. In 1688, the church was gutted by flames. Two years later, a new church was rebuilt. Damaged and repaired several times.

That church, enlarged and frescoed in 1898, is today the official residence of the Catholic Archbishop of Izmir. 


The paintings depicting some scenes from the Gospel and from the life of Saint Polycarp are the works of a young French painter-architect, Raymond Pere, who established himself in Izmir at the end of the 19th century. His name became famous for what is considered his masterpeice, the Konak Clock Tower, which eventually became the symbol of Izmir. He left us a selfportrait, the man in chains with black moustache, in the scene scene of St. Polycarp's martyrdom to the statue of black-clothed Madonna donated to the church by Catholic Armenians fleeing from their native Persia. There are also some tombstones which date back to the time when burials in churches were permitted.

SMYRNA's first Christian Community, like the other churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation (chapters 2 and 3). was founded by St. John the Apostle and Evangelist , in the first period of his Apostolic mission in Asia Minor (c37-48A.D), when he accompanied the Virgin Mother to Safer Heavens in Ephesus, soon after the outbreak of the violent persecution against the young Christian Community in Jerusalem, in the year 36 of our era which claimed the life of the first martyr, St. Stephen, and St. James, -John's elder brother-(42 A.D).