October 8, 2018

Venerable Martyr Ignatios of Kios

St. Ignatios of Kios (Feast Day - October 8)

The Venerable Martyr Ignatios was born in Kios of Bithynia to pious and virtuous parents, by whom he was taught sacred letters. After his parents died, he desired to enter the monastic life. Therefore he distributed all he had to the poor and left for Mount Olympus in Bithynia.

There Saint Ignatios went to the Monastery of Saint Auxentios, where the abbot immediately tonsured him, recognizing him to be a treasury of virtue and the Holy Spirit. He therefore lived a life of strict asceticism for the love of Christ, and in time longed to be martyred for His name. Soon after Emperor Leo III the Isaurian issued an edict declaring Iconoclasm.

To fulfill his desire for martyrdom, Ignatios first returned to Kios and subjected himself to Saint Eustathios, Bishop of Kios (Mar. 29), who taught him the mysteries of theology. Both then decided to pursue martyrdom together for the sake of the holy icons and the Orthodox faith. It came however for Saint Eustathios to suffer on behalf of the holy icons, while Ignatios remained in Kios in strict fasting, prayer and vigils, often receiving the Divine Mysteries. Having been strengthened by this, he departed for Constantinople and presented himself before Emperor Leo, where he venerated before him the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. For this he was harshly beaten and cast into prison.

While in prison, Christ appeared to Ignatios to heal his wounds and encourage him in his impending torments. After forty days he was given an opportunity to change his mind regarding the holy icons, but he remained firm in his faith. For this he was exiled to a rocky island off Mytilene where he was to receive no human aide where food and water was scarce. The successor of Leo, Constantine Copronymos, ordered that all those exiled by his father should remain in exile, so Ignatios continued to live alone in exile. However, fishermen soon came to help the Saint and gave him bread and water. The Saint requested that they bring him a priest to receive Holy Communion, which they did. Upon communing, he delivered his soul to God.

The priest and fishermen then buried the Saint at the place of his asceticism. At night the fishermen would see a light emanating from his grave. When the people of Kios heard of his death, two of them went to retrieve his relics to bring them back to his homeland. However, when they arrived they found other Christians taking portions of his relics, so the people of Kios were able to bring the right hand of the Saint home.

Upon their return home, they got caught in a storm, for which they prayed: "Saint Ignatios help us!" The Saint then appeared on the ship holding an icon of Christ, saying: "Be brave and do not fear, for I am with you!" Immediately the storm ceased and the sea became calm. Then they built a church near the coast of Kios where they treasured the relic of the Saint, which became a source of miracles.