Saint Ignatios: Theophorus - the God Bearer
When I first started looking for the New Testament Church (and by that I do not mean the one that looked the most like it), I read a great deal of early church history books from just about every perspective you could imagine - except from the perspective of the Eastern Church...not one of the many early church history texts I read (initially) were written by an Orthodox Christian. Pelikan doesn't count because he wasn't Orthodox at the time he wrote his history of Christian doctrine series.
Anyway, sometime afterwards I decided I needed to read some of the extra-New Testament works of some of the people I had been reading about in all these different history books. I imagined that I might find a few works that dated to maybe the early third century, and so you can fathom my pleasant suprise to find out how wrong I was. Enter St. Ignatios.
Today is the feastday of Saint Ignatios of Antioch - aka Theophorus, the God-Bearer. St. Ignatios was the bishop of Antioch beginning in about 65AD and was martyred around 107AD and you can no doubt imagine how frightening this fact is to someone who didn't really "believe" in bishops per se. Well, the situation becomes even more frightening, for not only do we have record of a bishop existing as a hierarchial head of a citywide church well before much of the New Testament was written, we also have seven extant letters from this very early bishop and saint. Finding out that there were Christian writings that existed as early as the 1st century really floored me...I had no idea. Then I made the mistake of reading them.
All my Christian life I'd believed that church hierarchy, sacraments, and frankly anything decidedly un-protestant evolved in the faith after Constantine the Great had "compromised Christianity." But here I was reading St. Ignatios who wrote about a Christianity that was utterly foreign to me and that reeked of all the pagan things that I believed infiltrated the true faith - and this being related to me from just this side of the first century. How could this man who knew the Apostles have gotten so off track?!?!?! Well, as bad luck (divine providence) would have it, I started reading other writers from very early dates and it all went downhill from there. St. Irenaios would ultimately seal my fate and I eventually came to undertsand that I ought not to be judging these early Christian leaders...on the contrary, THEY should be judging ME and MY protestantism!
St. Ignatios was martyred in Rome around the time of 107AD. As he was being led to Rome from his home in Antioch he wrote a series of letters to a variety of churches throughout Asia Minor. All of these letters (as well as numerous other early works) can be found in Silouan's Library.
Holy Saint Ignatios of Antioch, whom our Lord Himself lifted up onto His lap, please Pray unto God for us!
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 3:50 PM [+]