St. Ignatius was a convert to the faith and a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. St. John Chrysostom says that St. Peter appointed him Bishop of Antioch, which See he governed for forty years. The Saint longed to shed his blood for Christ, but the opportunity was not granted him during the persecution under Domitian. While the short reign of Nerva lasted the Church was at peace, but under Trajan persecution broke out anew. In the year 107, the Emperor came to Antioch. St. Ignatius was seized and brought before him. Having confessed Christ, he was condemned to be taken in chains to Rome, there to be exposed to the wild beasts. During this last journey he was welcomed by the faithful of Smyrna, Troas, and other places along the way.
The Saint arrived in Rome just as the public spectacles in the amphitheater were drawing to a close. The faithful of the city came out to meet him. He was at once hurried to the amphitheater, where two fierce lions immediately devoured him. He ended his saintly life by a glorious death, exclaiming, “May I become agreeable bread to the Lord.” His remains were carried to Antioch, where they were interred. In the reign of Theodosius (379-395) they were transferred to a church within the city. At present they are venerated in Rome.
During his journey St. Ignatius addressed seven epistles to various congregations, in which, as a disciple of the Apostles, he testifies to the dogmatic character of Apostolic Christianity.
PRAYER: Almighty and ever-living God, You adorn the body of Your holy Church with the witness of Your Martyrs. Grant that the sufferings of St. Ignatius on this day that brought unending glory to him may bring us perpetual protection. Amen.