Monday, December 5, 2022

St Ignatius of Antioch – Feast Day – October 17

St Ignatius was the Bishop of Antioch who was born in Syria and died as a martyr in 107 AD in Rome during the persecutions of Christians by Emperor Trajan in Antioch.

We celebrate his feast day on October 17 every year in the Catholic Church.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr Biography
St Ignatius of Antioch - Feast Day - October 17
St Ignatius of Antioch – Feast Day – October 17
Date of Birth 1st-century
Place of Birth Syria
Profession An early Christian writer and Bishop of Antioch
Place of Work Antioch
Date of Death 107 AD
Place of Death Rome, Roman Empire
Feast Day October 17
Canonization Pre-Congregation
Patron Saint of 1. Church in Eastern Mediterranean
2. Church in North Africa

St Ignatius of Antioch Life History

St Ignatius of Antioch converted to Christianity at an early age and was friends with St Polycarp. Both of them were disciples of St John the Apostle.

Later on, he was chosen to become the Bishop of Antioch, (this is the city where the disciples were first called Christians) and used to call himself God-Bearer (Theophorus).

Roman Emperor Trajan continued prosecuting Christians around the Roman empire including Antioch. St Ignatius was not killed in Antioch and was taken to Rome by ten soldiers for persecution.

Instead of being transported directly by sea, the soldiers took him around the towns and cities of Asia Minor and Greece where he met with other Christians before finally reaching Rome.

In this long trek, Ignatius wrote seven letters to the Christians. The seven epistles are;

  1. The Epistle to the Trallians,
  2. The Epistle to the Smyrnaeans,
  3. The Epistle to the Romans,
  4. The Epistle to the Philadelphians,
  5. The Epistle to the Magnesians,
  6. The Epistle to the Ephesians,
  7. The Epistle to Polycarp, a bishop of Smyrna.

In these letters, St Ignatius urged the Christians there to continue being faithful to God and to remain obedient to their Church leaders. He also warned them against heresies.

These letters show the behaviour and demeanour of the early Christians and also show that what St Ignatius believed in the 1st Century is what we Catholics believe today.

St Ignatius postulated that we should celebrate the day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as a festival because on that day our life germinated again and we obtained through Christ the victory over death.

To the disciples in Rome, he wrote: “Allow me to emulate my suffering God. I am God’s wheat and I shall be chewed by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.”

He was also a strong proponent of the Holy Eucharist and that Jesus was true God and true man. He believed that Jesus Christ, The Word, was made flesh and came to dwell among us.

St Ignatius wrote, “Wherever the bishop goes, let there be people; just like wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” It is St Ignatius who was the first to use the word “Catholic” to refer to the Church.

Death

In Rome, he was mauled by lions and died as a martyr in the year 107 AD.

Relics

After his martyrdom, his remains were taken back to Antioch by his companions but in 637 AD his relics were transferred to The Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome.

St Ignatius of Antioch Feast Day

From the 12th Century until 1969 his feast day was celebrated on February 1, but after the Roman Catholic Church liturgical reforms in 1969, the feast day was transferred to October 17.

St Ignatius of Antioch is the Patron Saint of

  1. Church in Eastern Mediterranean
  2. Church in North Africa

St Ignatius of Antioch Quote

“I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ

than be king over the entire earth.

Him I seek who died for us;

him I love who rose again because of us.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Other Catholic Saints whose Feast Days are in October

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