Saint of the Day – St. Ignatius of Antioch
October 17 is the feast day of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, also known as Theophorus. He was a disciple of the Apostle St. John the Evangelist and was thrown to the lions in Rome as a martyr for the faith in 108 A.D.
St. Ignatius’ journey from Antioch in Syria to Rome took 7 years as he traveled in chains and visited Christian communities along the way. He also wrote letters to churches, encouraging them to stay united under the leadership of their bishop.
St. Ignatius of Antioch was an early formative influence in the church on the importance of bishops as leaders and as the definitive teachers of the faith. He accorded a special respect to the church of Rome and its bishop. He was also the first to use the Greek word katholikos (meaning “universal”) in reference to the church.
Ignatius summarized the meaning of his martyrdom in this prayer:
“I am a kernel of wheat for Christ. I must be ground by the teeth of beasts to be found bread (of Christ) wholly pure.”
St. Ignatius of Antioch would become one of the fathers of the Church and his writings would inspire Christians through the ages. One of the people whom he would inspire with his sense of the Church and the giving of one’s life to be found the wholly pure bread of Christ was Iñigo de Loyola who would change his baptismal name to Ignatius in his later years. As St. Ignatius Loyola, he would go forth to offer his life in the service to the Church to be ground into the pure bread of Christ.