Wednesday, October 17, 2007

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius was converted to Christianity by John the Apostle and appointed bishop of Antioch by Saint Peter.

He was the first recorded person to refer to the Christian Church as "Catholic." Some time before the year 107, St. Ignatius wrote,
Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.
The word "Catholic" comes from the Greek word katholikos which means "universal". The church, the Christian church, was the Catholic Church in the time right after the apostles.

All the Christian Churches, whether in Jerusalem, Rome or elsewhere were all part of the One Church founded by our Saviour Jesus Christ. That one Church was "Catholic"--Universal--and still takes its teachings directly from the Apostles--the men who were hand picked by Christ while He walked on the earth.

Jesus gave Peter the "keys to the kingdom of Heaven" and gave him (and the men he ordained by the laying on of hands) the "power to bind and loose." (Matthew 16: 19) That power exists today, as it did in the first century, in the Catholic Church.

Its members, men, women, lay and religious, lowly and leaders are far from perfect. Many are not even "good". But, Jesus promised that
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. ~Matthew 16:19
That is a promise that St. Ignatius believed in, in the years that the first Apostles still walked and taught.

4 comments:

The Fat Priest said...

Hi! Thanks for this blog, I just discovered it.

We don't talk or preach nearly enough about how our faith and spiritual practice relates to our health, and yet, one of the great Patristic images of our Lord was as the Divine Physician who wants us to be well.

St. Dymphna, pray for us!

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Excellent point!

Chris Jones said...

appointed bishop of Antioch by Saint Peter

Is there any historical evidence that St Ignatius was appointed by St Peter? On the face of it, it seems quite anachronistic, since episcopal appointments were not centralized to the Papacy until many centuries later. Indeed, I believe that even now the Melkite bishop of Antioch is not a Papal appointee.

Of course, I have no reason to believe that St Peter did not appoint St Ignatius. And since St Peter himself is said to have presided over the Church of Antioch, it is not unlikely that he appointed his own successor. But I do not think it is something that we positively know one way or the other.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Chris, I actually don't know for sure. One source I saw before writing this said it was either Saint Peter or Saint Paul, and then another said Saint Peter.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Theodoret ("Dial. Immutab.", I, iv, 33a, Paris, 1642) is the authority for the statement that St. Peter appointed Ignatius to the See of Antioch."

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