St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Ignatius of Antioch has been well-known since earliest times. He was born in the year 50. St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom both thought of his tomb as near the city gates of Antioch. Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch. This is the city where St. Peter labored before he moved to Rome. It is also the city where followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Ignatius was condemned to death during the reign of Emperor Trajan. He was led from Antioch to the center of Roman cruelty-the amphitheater.
Although he journeyed to Rome under military guard, Ignatius stopped in Smyrna and Troas. From each of those cities, he wrote letters to the Christian communities. In this way, he used the same methods of preaching the Good News as the great St. Paul. One of the letters Ignatius wrote from Troas was to St. Polycarp, a fellow bishop, who is also a martyr. We celebrate his feast on February 23.
When the beloved Ignatius arrived in Rome, he joined the brave Christians who waited in prisons. The day came when the bishop was pushed out into the amphitheater. Two fierce lions devoured him. He left the beautiful witness of Christian life and his letters. St. Ignatius died around 107.
"Pray for me, so that I shall not fail the test." Let us find courage in the witness and prayers of St. Ignatius.