Ignatius of Antioch was the second bishop of
after St Peter . . . . He was arrested . . . condemned to death, and transported to Antioch to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. . . . Rome
In the course of his journey he wrote seven letters to various churches, in which he dealt wisely and deeply with Christ, the organization of the Church, and the Christian life. They are important documents for the early history of the Church, and they also reveal a deeply holy man who accepts his fate and begs the Christians in
Rome not to try to deprive him of the crown of martyrdom.
He was martyred in 107 and his feast was already being celebrated on this day in fourth-century
(From one of those letters)
It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the
note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.
If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop - in a friendship
not based on nature but on spiritual grounds - how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God’s bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.
This excerpt from St. Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians (nn. 2, 2-5, 2: Funk 1, 175-177) was written around 110 AD.