Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch

17 October -- Lesser Festival -- Martyr -- Red

Ignatius was born probably in Syria in about the year 35AD and was either the second or third bishop of Antioch, the third largest city in the Roman Empire. Nothing is known of his life bar his final journey under armed escort to Rome, and where he was martyred in about the year 107. In the course of this journey, he met Polycarp in Smyrna, and wrote a number of letters to various Christian congregations which are among the greatest treasures of the primitive Church. In the face of persecution he appealed to his fellow Christians to maintain unity with their bishop at all costs. His letters reveal his passionate commitment to Christ, and how he longed 'to imitate the passion of my God'.


Feed us, O Lord, with the living bread
and make us drink deep of the cup of salvation
that, following the teaching of your bishop Ignatius
and rejoicing in the faith
   with which he embraced a martyr's death,
we may be nourished for that eternal life
   for which he longed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah.

Waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This is the word of the Lord.         Isaiah 35. 6-10

Responsorial Psalm

RThe ransomed of the Lord shall return
[and come to Zion with singing].
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. R

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of your name, lead me and guide me. R

Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me,
for you are my tower of strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth. R

I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy;
for you have seen my affliction, you know my distress.
You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy;
you have set my feet in an open place. R         From Psalm 31

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians.

Whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

This is the word of the Lord.         Philippians 3. 7-12

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

The Jews disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."

This is the gospel of Christ.         John 6. 52-58

Post Communion

God our Redeemer,
whose Church was strengthened
   by the blood of your martyr Ignatius:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ's sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.