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<*}}}>< St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr

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  • Sue Cifelli
    Spiritual Bouquet: If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. St. Matthew 5:39 SAINT IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH Bishop and Martyr (†107)
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2012
      Spiritual Bouquet: If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. St. Matthew 5:39

      Bishop and Martyr

      Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Believing that
      the Church on earth should resemble that of the heavenly Jerusalem of which Saint John wrote in
      his Apocalypse, he established singing in choirs in his church at Antioch, after a vision of the
      celestial choirs who sang in that manner. When the emperor Domitian persecuted the Church,
      Saint Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer, although for his own part
      he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple.

      The Roman emperors often visited Antioch, one of the cities of first importance of the empire. In
      107, the eighth year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, he came to Antioch and forced the
      Christians to choose between apostasy and death. Saint Ignatius, who had already governed that
      church for forty years, continued to fortify it against apostasy, and did not flee. Arrested and
      brought before the emperor, the latter addressed him: “Who are you, poor devil, to set our
      commands at naught?” “Call not poor devil,” Ignatius answered, “one who bears God within
      him.” And when the emperor asked him what he meant by that, Ignatius explained that he bore in
      his heart Christ, crucified for his sake. “Change your ideas, and I will make you a priest of the
      great Jupiter, and you will be called ‘father’ by the Senate.”

      “What could such honors matter to
      me, a priest of Christ, who offer Him every day a sacrifice of praise, and am ready to offer myself
      to Him also?” “To whom? To that Jesus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate?” “Yes, and with
      whom sin was crucified, and the devil, its author, vanquished.”

      The questions and the courageous replies continued for a time that day and also on the following
      one. Saint Ignatius said, “I will not sacrifice; I fear neither torments nor death, because I desire
      to go quickly to God.” Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild
      beasts in Rome. Saint Ignatius blessed God, who had so honored him, “binding him in the same
      chains as Paul, His apostle.” When his people wept, he told them to place their hope in the
      sovereign Pastor, who never abandons His flock. On passing through the city of Smyrna, he
      exhorted the faithful, who were grieved at his fate, to remain true to Christ until death, and he
      gave some of them who were going to Rome a letter for the Christians of the capital of the
      Christian world. This letter is still extant. He writes: “I fear your charity, I fear you have an
      affection too human for me. You might prevent me from dying, but by so doing, you would
      oppose my happiness. Suffer me to be immolated while the altar is ready; give thanks to God...
      If when I arrive among you I should have the weakness to seem to have other sentiments, do not
      believe me; believe only what I am writing to you now.”

      This letter of Saint Ignatius has
      encouraged all generations of Christians in their combats.

      He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear but of losing the martyr’s crown.
      Three of his disciples, who accompanied him and were eyewitnesses of the spectacle, wrote the
      acts of his martyrdom: His face shining with joy, he reassured them as the lions were released,
      saying: “I am the wheat of Christ, I will be ground by the teeth of the beasts and made into flour
      to be a good bread for my Lord Jesus Christ!” He was devoured by lions in the Roman
      amphitheater. The wild beasts left nothing of his body except a few bones, which were reverently
      treasured at Antioch until their removal in the year 637 to the Church of Saint Clement in Rome.
      After the martyr’s death, several Christians saw him in vision, in prayer to Christ, and interceding
      for them.

      Reflection. Ask Saint Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer,
      and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.

      Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris,
      1882), Vol. 2; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the
      Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).


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