It is not everyday we get to hear directly from someone who heard it all directly from an Apostle. Ignatius is one such person. Along with Polycarp (February 23) he was a disciple of the Apostle John and became bishop of Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria (the city mentioned in Acts 11:26 where “the disciples were for the first time called Christians”). He was arrested during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, and wrote several letters to communities he passed through along the way to his martyrdom in Rome.
He sought to move Jewish Christians away from strict adherence to the Law and he encouraged Christians to celebrate the “eighth day,” (Sunday) the day of the Resurrection, “as a festival,” for on that day “our life … sprang up again … and the victory over death was obtained in Christ.” His also pushed for unity in leadership and doctrine throughout the Church, instructing everyone to do everything in union with the local bishop and priests (Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7 and to the Ephesians, 3) .
He also wrote begging those he met to not stop his martyrdom. He had been accused of a being a Christian and he wanted no interference in the sentence that held.
Let us pray to Ignatius to intercede for us in seeking unity amongst all believers.
“Keep on praying” for others too, for there is a chance of their being converted and getting to God. Let them, then, learn from you at least by your actions. Return their bad temper with gentleness; their boasts with humility; their abuse with prayer. In the face of their error, be “steadfast in the faith.” Return their violence with mildness and do not be intent on getting your own back. By our patience let us show we are their brothers, intent on imitating the Lord, seeing which of us can be the more wronged, robbed, and despised. Thus no devil’s weed will be found among you; but thoroughly pure and self-controlled, you will remain body and soul united to Jesus Christ.
-- Letter to the Ephesians, 10