Ignatius of Antioch (d.c. 107) was Bishop of Antioch and a notable martyr of the early Church. Probably born in Syria, Ignatius was perhaps a disciple of Sts. Peter and Paul, or possibly St. John. One tradition declares that he was the child mentioned in Matthew (18:1-6) who was placed by Christ among the Apostles. He was perhaps the second bishop of Antioch (according to Origen) or the third (according to Eusebius) and called Theophoros (“God-bearer”).
His principal claim to historical fame comes from his martyrdom. Arrested by Roman authorities, he was sent to Rome for execution and, in the company of several soldiers, set out on the road to the Eternal City. Along the way Ignatius composed epistles (or letters) to the Christian communities of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and a farewell letter to Bishop Polycarp. The Letters of Ignatius have long been greatly honored by the Church for their eloquent, detailed glimpses of the Church in Ignatius’ era, and Ignatius’ own spirituality. He died by being thrown to the wild beasts in the Roman Circus.