On this day also, St. Ignatius was martyred in Rome in the year 107 A.D. He was chosen Bishop for Antioch, succeeding St. Peter the Apostle, in the year 69 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Trajan. When the Emperor heard that this Saint had attracted many by his teachings to believe in the Lord Christ, he brought him and asked him, "Are you Ignatius the Theophoros?" He replied, "Yes, I am." The Emperor inquired about the meaning of his name. The saint replied saying, "It means 'Godbearer.'" The Emperor said, "Do you think that we do not carry our gods to support us in wars?" The Saint answered, "How can these statues be gods? Listen, there is no God except the only God that created the Heaven and Earth, and His Son Jesus Christ who was incarnated to save mankind. So if you had believed in Him, you would be content now in your kingship."
The emperor attempted to persuade him to forsake Christianity, but he refused. The Emperor was enraged, ordered him bound with fetters, and taken to Rome to be thrown to the beasts. Ignatius responded by kissing the fetters that would be his means of receiving the crown of martyrdom. The believers tried to save him by paying bribes to the soldiers, but he refused, for he was yearning for martyrdom.
He went on his way to Izmir (Smyrna), where he wrote a letter to the Christians of Rome that said in it: "I am afraid that your love may be harmful. If you wish to prevent my death, that will not be difficult for you. But allow me to be slaughtered wherever the altar has been prepared. I am wheat which must be ground, to make bread, to be offered to Jesus Christ. Whenever the people will not behold me anymore, I will behold our Lord Jesus Christ."
When he arrived in Rome, they threw him to the beasts. A lion attacked him and grabbed him by his neck. The Saint delivered up his soul in the hand of the Lord. Then the lion released him and went back to his place, and the believers came and carried his body with great honor to a place they prepared for him in Antioch.
May his prayers be with us, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.
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