Ignatius of Antioch, Saint

Ignatius of Antioch, Saint

(ĭgnā`shəs, ăn`tēŏk), d. c.107, bishop of Antioch and Christian martyr, called Theophorus [Gr.,= God-bearer]. He was probably a convert and a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. On his way to Rome to be martyred by the wild beasts of the amphitheater, he wrote the important letters to the churches in Rome and in Asia Minor, and to St. PolycarpPolycarp, Saint
, c.A.D. 70–A.D. 156?, Greek bishop of Smyrna, Father of the Church. He was a disciple of St. John, who appointed him bishop. Thus he linked the apostles and such 2d-century Christian expositors as St. Irenaeus. St. Polycarp was a close friend of St.
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. The seven epistles are an invaluable testimony to the beliefs and internal organization of the early Christians. St. Ignatius is the first writer to stress the virgin birth. He firmly denounced DocetismDocetism
[Gr.,=to appear], early heretical trend in Christian thought. Docetists claimed that Christ was a mere phantasm who only seemed to live and suffer. A similar tendency to deny Jesus' humanity appeared in the teachings of Simon Magus, Marcion, Gnosticism, and certain
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 and viewed the mystery of the Trinity as an assumed doctrine of faith. The only guarantee against heresy, he taught, is the church united under a bishop. St. Ignatius is the first in Christian literature to use the word Catholic. Feast: Feb. 1.

Bibliography

See J. A. Kleist, tr., The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch (1946), V. Corwin, Saint Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch (1960).

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