Today we honor St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was the Antioch’s third bishop after St Peter. In or about the year 100, Ignatius attended a public ceremony at which he and Antioch’s other officials were bound to pledge allegiance to thr gods of Rome.
Ignatius refused to honor any god but the true God, and this case was referred to Rome, to the Emperor Trajan. The emperor decided that if Ignatius refused he would be guilty of treason, and he would need to be brought to Rome to be fed to the lions.
Ignatius refused, and a platoon of Roman soldiers returning to Rome after duty in the East, were assigned to bring Ignatius back with. The Christians at very port along the way came down to visit with Ignatius who was chained to the mast.
Afterwards, Ignatius wrote letters back to each group, and the letters give valuable witness to what the Church was like at that early date. There are beautiful passages in each letter. Let me quote just one sentence apiece fro his Letter to the Magnesians, and to the Romans.
To the Magnesians he wrote: “Be full convinced of the birth and passion and the resurrection that took place during the governorship of Pontius Pilate. These things were really and truly done by Jesus Christ, our hope.”
In the letter he sent ahead to the Christians in Rome he wrote: “Please let me be thrown to then wild beasts; through them I can reach God. I am God’s wheat. I will be ground by te teeth of wild beasts that I may end up as the pure bread of Christ.”
Ignatius went on to be devoured by the beasts in the Coliseum.