St. Ignatius of Antioch


Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26; Eusebius Eccl. Hist. 3.22.36 and Origen, Hom. 6 In Luc). The impor­tance of Antioch as a center of apostolic Christianity cannot be overestimated. It was the first center of outreach to the Gentiles (Acts 11:20) and the base from which Paul and Barna­bas were sent out on their missionary journeys (Acts 13:2-3; 15: 35-41; 18:22-23). Peter, too, spent some time there prior to relocating in Rome (Gal 2:11). St. Ignatius of Antioch is therefore an important witness to the way in which the teaching of these apostles was remem­bered by this eminent Church. Yet the letters of Saint Ignatius reflect not only the apostolic tradition as preserved by Antioch; many of the churches to which he wrote, such as that of Ephesus, were also founded by those of the apos­tolic generation. So the seven letters which St. Ignatius wrote shortly before his martyrdom around 115AD witness to a common apostolic patrimony as understood and lived probably only a decade or two after the writing of John’s Gospel.  For more on Ignatius and other Early Church Fathers, see When the Church was Young: Voices of the Early FathersBiography by Dr. Italy