St. Ignatius is one of the earliest Christian Martyrs. He was arrested in Antioch and, for unknown reasons, and was transported across half of the empire to Rome for punishment. Some suffering souls have experienced the passion of Christ in the very same manner that Christ did. Stigmatists have had bloody holes pierce their palms, felt the pressure of a crown of thorns on their skull, or the pain of an open wound in their side. Such re-livings of the passion show an advanced spirituality and detailed meditation on Christ’s final hours. They want to offer their entire lives like wheat in the jaws of lions. The original martyrs were just open to dying.
Ignatius wrote in explicit language about the Holy Eucharist,
the Catholic Church, and the importance of bishops. He was
the first to use the word “Catholic” in reference to the Church:
“Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as
wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” “There
is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both
made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death;
both of Mary and of God…” He understands the Eucharist as
literally the flesh of Christ.
In his last liturgical act, he gave the gift of himself, and was
torn apart by the powerful jaws of lions. Although his body
was ripped to pieces, some bones were picked out of the grains
of sand and brought back to Antioch. They are now found in
the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome.