St. Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Easter Vigil 2024

Fr. Peter Robinson

Preached: March 30, 2024

This Holy Evening, I would like to introduce you to one of my favourite saints. His name is St. Ignatius of Antioch, and he was martyred around 107 AD. St. Ignatius is called an “Apostolic Father” — meaning that he was discipled (personally) by one of the original twelve disciples of our Lord, in his case, by St. John the Evangelist. As well, St. Ignatius followed St. Peter as the second bishop of the ancient city of Antioch. So, here is a Church leader who was a first link in the chain of the Faith, stretching from the original Apostles (after Jesus resurrection), through the Church’s bishops over 2000 years, to us Catholics today.

Under the reign of the Emperor Trajan, St. Ignatius was condemned to die in the Roman Arena — by lion or leopard. On his journey from today’s Turkey to Rome, by ship and by foot, he was guarded by a squad of Roman soldiers. They were cruel to him; he wrote that his guards were like “ten leopards” themselves.

Now, imagine the waves of fear (of his coming sufferings) that must have threatened to drown him at times, especially in the darkest hours of the night. What sustained him over those months as a condemned man, in chains? The answer is simple to state: it was the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thanks to his seven letters, we know that Ignatius returned to these truths:

  • That Jesus came to express a spiritual mystery beyond telling.
  • That Jesus was really flesh and blood, yet also spiritual.
  • That he was born (of a woman) and yet unborn (as the eternal Son of God).
  • That he received true, human life from Mary (and from God), and that he died.
  • That he suffered on his journey to the cross, and then rose beyond all suffering.
  • That he is God come in the flesh.

Then, St. Ignatius introduced, for the first time in the teaching of the Church, a wonderful metaphor of Jesus’ ministry on earth: that Jesus came as the “one physician.” He came as the great doctor, who offers us the medicine of immortality — through baptism and the Eucharist. Brothers and sisters, by example think of the chemotherapy that a person receives to fight cancer; except in the Eucharist, we receive an infusion of Jesus’ immortality. This infusion is of eternal life, which alone defeats the “cancer” of death. This is an infusion of the very life of the great physician, Jesus himself.

Let me close, then, like this:

  • The true and living God ⇢ took upon himself a fully human nature.
  • From God’s Incarnation 2000 years ago ⇢ flows the Eucharist today.
  • And from the Eucharist ⇢ flows the risen, eternal life of the God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, at this holy Easter Vigil pray for us …


  • Howell, Kenneth J. Ignatius of Antioch & Polycarp of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary. CHResources. Kindle Edition, 2009. Location 432 (L85-L87).
Tags: , ,
Previous Post

Genuine Charity

Next Post

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!