Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 108) Writes Churches on His March to Death

[ABOVE—Ignatius of Antioch Baring-Gould, Lives of the Saints [Public domain]]

Around 107 Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, was arrested by Roman authorities for his Christian practice. Dispatched under guard to Rome to be executed in the arena, he met delegates of local churches along the way and also wrote letters encouraging the faith of various congregations.

In his letter to Roman Christians, he asked them not to try to intervene for him. He was eager to reach God through martyrdom. In his letter to the church at Smyrna, he explained why he was willing to die for Christ. (See the excerpt below.)

As it turned out, when he reached Rome, he was hustled immediately into the arena and devoured by wild animals.

Ignatius: Letter to the Church at Smyrna.

And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? [It is because] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he [is there] in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him—strengthened inwardly by the one who became a perfect man.