Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
“Now I begin to be a disciple... Let fire and cross, flocks of beasts, broken bones, dismemberment... come upon me, so long as I attain to Jesus Christ.” ~ St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Ignatius of Antioch was born in Syria, Ignatius Theophorus, around the year 50. He was one of the Church Fathers, whom we celebrate today, October 17th. Martyr, Bishop, and Apostle. He was a disciple of the Apostle John and the Apostle Peter, consecrated to serve the Church as Bishop around the year 69.
His zeal for the Lord was unmatched, and he suffered all of his life because of it, to the point of death. He led the Church of Antioch through many persecutions by determined kings to exterminate Christians. St. Ignatius never backed down and, with peaceful sacrifice, protected Christians with his admirable leadership and faith in God.
To Ignatius, we own the term "Catholic" to define the Church. Ignatius made essential contributions to the building of the Church we have now. He participated in the transition of the Christian religion from its Jewish origins to the Greco-Roman world.
He was a big proponent for the hierarchical structure of the Church with an emphasis on episcopal authority. He also insisted on the humanity of Christ.
His most significant contribution to Christians besides his courageous witness of faith and steadfast love for Christ in martyrdom were seven letters or Epistles that he wrote on his journey to Rome after being arrested to be killed by Roman Emperor Trajan in the year 107.
St. Ignatius was a theologian. These letters urge the Christians in Asian Minor, including the Christians in Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and to his friend Polycarp. He encouraged them to remain faithful to God and to obey their Bishops. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the factual truths of the Christian faith.
The Bishop of Antioch was ready to join Christ in his passion. He believed that is how you unite yourself to him. His humble charism was eminent in his writings,
"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.” ~ Letter to the Romans
This sentiment is not far from what St. John's disciples ought to believe. In the Gospel of John 15:13, he says, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Indeed, St. Ignatius' love for the Lord and his desire for eternal life were tested. His passion was as real as dying for the sake of Christ devoured by lions in the year 117.
Prayer to St. Ignatius of Antioch:
St. Ignatius, Apostle, and Martyr,
Pray to the Lord, Our God, for our souls. May we desire To live our lives for the sake of the Kingdom.
May we fight for truth zealously as the early Christians did. Thank you for your example of discipleship.
In Jesus name, Amen 🙏