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IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

Posted on Oct 15 , 2013 in Saint of the Week

IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

 

Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to Rome, where according to Christian tradition he met his martyrdom by being fed to wild beasts, he wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Ignatius converted to Christianity at a young age. Later in his life he was chosen to serve as the Bishop of Antioch, succeeding Saint Peter and St. Evodius (who died around A.D. 67). The fourth century Church historian Eusebius records that Ignatius succeeded Evodius. Making his apostolic succession even more immediate, Theodoret of Cyrrhus reported that St. Peter himself appointed Ignatius to the episcopal see of Antioch. Ignatius called himself Theophorus(God Bearer). A tradition arose that he was one of the children whom Jesus took in his arms and blessed.

Ignatius is one of the five Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers). He based his authority on being a bishop of the Church, living his life in the imitation of Christ. It is believed that St. Ignatius, along with his friend Polycarp, with great probability were disciples of the Apostle St. John.

Rome Epistles attributed to Ignatius report his arrest by the authorities and travel to Rome: 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.

Ignatius' feast day is observed on 17 October.
 

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