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St. Ignatius

Bishop, Martyr

February 1

Ignatius, chosen to be the second successor of Peter as Bishop of Antioch, was accused of being a Christian during Trajan’s reign, and condemned to be sent to the beasts in Rome.

As he was being brought from Syria in chains, he kept teaching all the cities of Asia which he went through, exhorting them as a messenger of the Gospel and instructing the more distant ones by his letters. In one of these letters, which he wrote to the Romans from Smyrna while he was enjoying Polycarp’s companionship, among other matters he said this about his own death sentence: “O helpful beasts that are being made ready for me! When will they come? When will they be sent out? When will they be allowed to devour my flesh? And I hope that they will be made the more fierce, lest by chance, as has happened in the case of others, they may fear to touch my body.

“Now I am beginning to be Christ’s disciple. Let fire, crosses, beasts, the tearing apart of my limbs, the torment of my whole body and all the sufferings prepared by the devil’s art be heaped upon me all at once, if only I may attain Jesus Christ!” When he had arrived in Rome, he heard the lions roaring and, burning with desire for martyrdom, he burst out, “I am the wheat of Christ; let me be ground by the teeth of the beasts so that I may be found pure bread.” He suffered in the eleventh year of Trajan’s reign.


Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. I: Advent to Passion Sunday (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1738-1739.