St. Ignatius of Antioch
Feast Day: October 17
Born:50 :: Died:107
St. Ignatius of Antioch was born in the year 50 to a pagan family (people who do not believe in God). He later wanted to become a Christian and was converted.
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 by Emperor Trajan who hated the Christians. He was taken from Antioch to the amphitheater in center of Rome.
This was the place where the Christians who were to die were left in the center of a big ground to be eaten by hungry lions that were let out of their cages.
All around this large ground were seats for the Romans to watch while the lions killed the people and they enjoyed watching the Christians die.
Although St. Ignatius traveled to Rome under military guard, he stopped in Smyrna and Troas. From each of those cities, he wrote letters to the Christian communities. He was the first writer to use the term "the Catholic Church."
He told the churches that he was very happy to die for Jesus so they must not stop him. He asked them to pray that God would grant him his wish. In this way, like the great St. Paul, he preached the Good News to the people.
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. St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom both thought of his tomb as near the city gates of Antioch.
Let us find courage in the witness and prayers of St. Ignatius.
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