Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A name

I thought I would share a few words about how we chose the name Ignatius for our son, and today seemed very fitting as this is the feast day (October 17) on which the Roman Catholic Church remember and honour St Ignatius of Antioch.

One of the biggest reasons for us moving to Canada was for my husband to study theology at Regent College. Over the last 2 years, we have both learnt a great deal about faith and theology through his studies, and as a result of being a part of the Regent community and our local church community - Grandview Calvary Baptist Church - quite a mouthful I know. We felt it would be fitting for our child, conceived and born here, to have a name that was connected to this foundational and transformational time in our lives.

We threw around a few great Bible names and then we started talking about saints we liked. Up until recently I have had very little exposure to saints and their significance for church life today. Our protestant background (at least in my experience) doesn't place a great deal of value on the saints. I thought it was even heretical the way some churches almost seemed to worship these ordinary people who had lived and died.

I have recently come to a new appreciation of saints as ordinary people who have gone before us and set an example of what a life lived in faith can look like. Saints need not have been perfect or infallible (no one is), but are praised for their reflection of the character of Jesus. There are different categories in the different churches for canonization (making someone an 'official' saint) - the righteous ancestors of Christ, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs and confessors, bishops and priests who fought against heresy and, today, holy people in all walks of life can be recognized as saints.
Biblical timeline with Ignatius
St Ignatius was just one of these men, and someone whom Josh came across in his studies of the early church. He was born in Syria around 30-50 AD. Ignatius was appointed bishop of Antioch in 69 AD and died around 107-ish AD. It is likely he was a disciple of the apostles Peter and John. The timeline image above shows the overlap of their lives (Ignatius is in grey above John in yellow, to the right of the picture of Jesus) and how soon he lived after Christ.

Ignatius was arrested by the Roman authorities because he refused to renounce his faith in Christ and in order to make an example of him, he was sent to Rome to be killed in the colloseum. The Roman authorities hoped this would discourage the spread of Christianity, but it had quite the opposite effect. It seems that through-out history, the persecuted church is often the most vibrant, living and growing Church community. On route to Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters encouraging various churches along the way, which went on to be very influential in the development of early church doctrine. One of Ignatius' focuses included an emphasis on the significance of the Eucharist or the sacrament of communion - which is something I have also come to a new appreciation for, in part as a result of taking a class on the sacraments myself at Regent.
Saint Ignatius's most famous quotation, comes from his letter to the Romans:
I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God's sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.
Another famous Ignatius - Saint Ignatius of Loyola was also a pretty amazing man; born in Spain in 1491 he was seriously wounded in battle and had a personal conversion during his recovery. Ignatius gave up a life of nobility and devoted himself to following Christian spiritual leaders such as Francis of Assisi. He composed 'spiritual exercises' to encourage others to follow the teachings of Jesus. He was a founding member of the Jesuits. The name Ignatius is believed to be of Latin origin and means "fiery one" (ignite...). I like to think of this in terms of passion, and hope that our boy lives a passionate life, 'on fire' for peace, justice, love, hope...

Paul is my father's name and I love, admire and respect him greatly. As an adult he really is one of my best friends. It seems only fitting that our first born should carry his name. (As a Newington, Ignatius Paul also carries a wonderful legacy in this last name from Josh's father Charles too, and all the excellent Newingtons who came before him). The apostle Paul, St Paul, was also an amazing man who we studied particularly for a season at church this year.

Ignatius text drawn by my friend Cassie on a sweet card she sent us.
Icon image from here.
Timeline scanned from a book we have: The Timechart of Biblical History.
And lastly here is a picture of our young saint: Cheeky monkey


  1. Thank you for sharing this! I think I would really like your church!
    I pray that my little Josiah ('fire of God') and your little fiery one grow up to be strong in the Lord and zealous for Him. The world can always do with more fiery saints!

  2. Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful son! May you all be settling in together as a family of 3! :)Martine

  3. Sounds like you have encountered the Early Church during your time in Canada!

  4. Agreed Lauren!
    Thanks Martine, and Anonymous, thank you for your visit - you are right - we have!

  5. St Ignatius of Antioch is one of my favourite saints! Dad's baptism name is Ignatius and I do so love the name...was on our list if we had a boy instead of two pink girly girls!

    1. Megan, that is really interesting to hear. I'm glad to hear you are familiar with and fond of the name. It is fairly new to me though obviously carry's a long history. It is always interesting to hear responses and see reactions when we introduce him.


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