St. Ignatius is one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was the successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death by wild beasts during the Emperor Trajan’s persecution. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven magnificent letters, which we still have today, concerning the Person of Christ, his love for Christ, his desire for martyrdom and on the constitution of the Church and Christian life. His sentiments before his approaching martyrdom are summed in his word in the Communion antiphon, “I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread.”
He died a Martyrs death in Rome, devoured by two lions in one of the cruel demonstrations of Roman excess and animosity toward the true faith. But he believed that being torn apart by lions in the coliseum was a victory for Christ.
Just as Christ offered his body and blood on the cross and in the Eucharist, Ignatius prayed to become like the Master. He saw that to suffer like Christ, to become like Christ particularly in the Passion.
“Come fire and cross, gashes and rending, breaking of bones and mangling of limbs, the shattering in pieces of my whole body; come all the wicked torments of the Devil upon me, if I may but attain unto Jesus Christ.”