Ignatius of Antioch

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Ignatius of Antioch
Icon of the martyrdom Saint Ignatius
Saint, Martyr, Patriarch
Bornca. 35
Diedca. 107
Major shrineRelics are in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Feast17 October (in Western Christianity)
20 December in (Eastern Christianity)
Attributesa bishop surrounded by lions or in chains
PatronageChurch in eastern Mediterranean; Church in North Africa

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (AD. 35-107)[1] was the third Bishop or Patriarch of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters, including one to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who had also known John. These letters are an example of the theology of the earliest Christians. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Ignatius' feast day is observed on 17 October in Western Christianity and 20 December in Eastern Christianity.

Ignatius became Bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter and Evodius, who died around AD 67. Besides the Latin name, Ignatius, he also called himself Theophorus ("God Bearer"), and tradition says he was one of the children Jesus took in His arms and blessed. Ignatius was most likely a disciple of the Apostle John.[2]

Ignatius is generally considered to be one of the Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers) and a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Anglican/Episcopal Church who celebrate his feast day on October 17, and the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, who celebrate his feast day on December 20. Ignatius based his authority on living his life in imitation of Christ.

Martyrdom[change | change source]

Ignatius was arrested by the authorities and transported to Rome under trying conditions:

From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated. —Ignatius to the Romans, 5.

He died as a martyr in the arena. This was during the reign of Trajan. The Roman authorities hoped to make an example of him and thus discourage Christianity from spreading. Instead, he met with and encouraged Christians who flocked to meet him all along his route, and he wrote seven letters to the churches in the region and one to a fellow bishop.

References[change | change source]

  1. See "Ignatius" in The Westminster Dictionary of Church History, ed. Jerald Brauer (Philadelphia:Westminster, 1971) and also David Hugh Farmer, "Ignatius of Antioch" in The Oxford Dictionary of the Saints (New York:Oxford University Press, 1987).
  2. The Martyrdom of Ignatius

Other websites[change | change source]

Preceded by
Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
Saint Heron