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St. Ignatius Noorono

The third bishop (Patriarch) of Antioch, succeeding Evodius around 68AD. St. Ignatius, who most likely, with Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna were fellow-disciples under St. Peter and St. John. His history is sufficiently indicated in his Epistles.

St. Ignatius is one of the little children whom the Lord blessed, and was placed in the midst of all his apostles (Matthew 18: 2).

He belonged to a Syrian family, strongly affected by Western civilization which had discarded native names. It is clear from the nature of his punishment that he cannot have been a Roman citizen. In which case, he would have been sent, like St. Paul, to Rome for trial, and, if condemned, would have been beheaded. From the scattered hints which the letters give, Rom. 9, 'born out of due time,' and the expression, 'last (of all),' found in Eph. 21, Trall. 13, Smyrn. 11, we may conclude that his conversion was late in life. According to ecclesiastical history and tradition, St. Peter the Apostle established a bishopric in Antioch and became its first bishop and was succeeded by Evodius for the converted Jews and St. Ignatius the Illuminator for the converted Gentiles. After the martyrdom of St. Peter in Rome, he was succeeded by St. Evodius who was martyred in 68AD. St. John the Chrysostom says that St. Peter appointed St. Ignatius Bishop of Antioch, who governed for forty years.

St. Ignatius was famously known for his epistles to many church and Christians. Several of his letters have survived to this day; he is generally considered to be one of the Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers) and a saint by the Roman Catholics as well. The feast day for St. Ignatius for Western and Syrian Christianity: October 17th

St. Ignatius was also called Theophorus "God-Bearer" was so delighted by his name, since he had the Name of the Savior in his heart and prayed unceasingly to Him. This shows how deeply the early Christians felt and believed in the indwelling Spirit. Saint Ignatius was extremely zealous and spared no efforts to nurture the vine of Christ. During time of persecution he was a source of strength to the souls of his flock, and was himself happy in the wish to suffer for Christ.

St. Ignatius was discouraged for his language to the Romans, in which he seems to crave, martyrdom. But he was already condemned, in law a dead man, and felt himself at liberty to glory in his tribulations.

We learn from his letters that he voluntarily presented himself before Trajan at Antioch, the seat of his bishopric. St. Ignatius professed himself a Christian, and was arrested by the Roman authorities and transported to Rome. There he was condemned to the lions and wild beasts in the colosseum. They hoped to make an example of him and thus discourage Christianity from spreading. Instead, he met with and encouraged Christians all along his route. The following seven letters are preserved under the name of Ignatius, are generally considered authentic, as the historian Eusebius mentioned them in the first half of the fourth century. After a long and dangerous voyage, he came to Smyrna, of which Polycarp was bishop, and thence wrote his four Epistles to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians, and the Romans. From Smyrna he came to Troas, he wrote to the Philadelphians, the Smyrnaeans, and Polycarp. St. Ignatius wrote in total 7 epistles. His letters proved to be influential in the development of Christian theology. He then came on to Neapolis, and passed through the whole of Macedonia. Finding a ship at Dyrrachium in Epirus about to sail into Italy, he embarked, and crossing the Adriatic, was brought to Rome, where he was martyred on the 17th of November 107AD (according the Syriac account), or, as some think, who deny a twofold expedition of Trajan against the Parthians, on the same day of the year 116AD.8

Contents of his Epistles

  • the Church was Divinely established as a visible society, the salvation of souls is its end, and those who separate themselves from it cut themselves off from God

  • Christ instituted the hierarchy of the Church

  • the threefold character of the hierarchy

  • the order of the episcopacy superior by Divine authority to that of the priesthood

  • the unity of the Church

  • the catholicity (universality) and holiness of the Church

  • the infallibility of the Church;

  • the doctrine of the Eucharist (), which word we find for the first time applied to the Blessed Sacrament,

  • It is from the word katholikos that the word "catholic" comes

When Ignatius wrote the Letter to the Smyrnaeans in roughly used the word "catholic," he used it as if it were a word already in use to describe the Church. This has led many scholars to conclude that the appellation "Catholic Church" with its ecclesial connotation may have been in use in Antioch as early as the last quarter of the first century. After St. Ignatius could bring together the whole who become Christian from Jews and Gentiles into one Church in Antioch.

  • the Incarnation

  • the supernatural virtue of virginity, already much esteemed and made the subject of a vow

  • the religious character of matrimony

  • the value of united prayer

By, Dr. Punnaran Aronnil

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