Saint Name: St Ignatius of Antioch
Place: Province of Syria, Roman Empire
Birth: 15 May 35
Death: 6 July 108 (aged 73)
Feast: October 17
St Ignatius of Antioch who was born on C. 35 is also known as Ignatius Theophorus and was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters.
This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops. In speaking of the authority of the church, he was the first to use the phrase "catholic church" in writing, which is still in use to this day.
In 107, during the reign of the brutal Emperor Trajan, this holy Bishop was wrongfully sentenced to death because he refused to renounce the Christian faith. He was taken under guard to Rome where he was to be brutally devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle. During his journey, his travels took him through Asia Minor and Greece. He made good use of the time by writing seven letters of encouragement, instruction and inspiration to the Christians in those communities. We still have these letters as a great treasure of the Church today.
The content of the letters addressed the hierarchy and structure of the Church as well as the content of the orthodox Christian faith. It was Bishop Ignatius who first used the term "catholic" to describe the whole Church. These letters connect us to the early Church and the unbroken, clear teaching of the Apostles which was given to them directly by Jesus Christ. They also reveal the holiness of a man of God who became himself a living letter of Christ. The shedding his blood in the witness of holy martyrdom was the culmination of a life lived conformed to Jesus Christ. Ignatius sought to offer himself, in Christ, for the sake of the Church which he loved. His holy martyrdom occurred in the year 107.