01 Feb

St Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr

Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch, the second successor of Peter in that see. In the time of Trajan, he was accused of being a Christian and condemned to be thrown to the beasts at Rome.

When he was being deported there in chains from Syria, he instructed all the cities of Asia at which he stopped with exhortations from the Gospel, even teaching the remote cities by his epistles.

In one of these cities, Smyrna, while being entertained at the home of St Polycarp, he wrote to the Romans, and among other things said this:

O beasts prepared to bring me salvation! When will they come? When will they be set loose? When will they enjoy my flesh? I hope they are ferocious, so that they have no fear of touching my body, as they sometimes have. Now I begin to be Christ’s disciple. Let fire, the cross, wild beasts, ripping apart of the limbs, pains of the entire body, and every torture of the devil’s refined art fall together upon me, so long as I merit gaining Jesus Christ.

Therefore, when taken to Rome, hearing the roaring lions, he burned with the desire for martyrdom and pronounced these words:

“I am the wheat of Christ: may I be ground by the teeth of beasts that I may become pure bread.” He suffered in the eleventh year of Trajan’s reign.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns and Oates, London, 1964


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