Saint Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John and served as the first bishop of Antioch in the late 1st century. About the year 100 he was arrested and taken on an arduous journey to face trial in Rome, and along the way he wrote a number of letters (epistles) to various churches. These letters are an early witness to the structure of Church government, with the threefold hierarchy of bishops, priests (presbyters), and deacons that is still found in the Church today.
In his letter to the Romans, Saint Ignatius wrote: "Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose means it will be granted me to reach God. I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ." This icon depicts his willing martyrdom in the arena.
Saint Ignatius is commemorated on December 20.