Forefeast of the Nativity According to the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-bearer, Bishop of Antioch

Commemorated December 20

St Ignatius was a disciple of St John the Theologian, and a successor of the Apostles, and he became the second Bishop of Antioch, after Evodus. He wrote many epistles to the faithful, strengthening them in their confession, and preserving for us the teachings of the holy Apostles. Brought to Rome under Trajan, he was surrendered to lions to be eaten, and so finished the course of martyrdom about the year 107 AD. The remnants of his bones were carefully gathered by the faithful and brought to Antioch. He is called God-bearer, as one who bare God within himself and was aflame in heart with love for Him. Therefore, in his Epistle to the Romans (chapter 4), imploring their love not to attempt to deliver him from his longed-for martyrdom, he said, "I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found to be the pure bread of God".

Dismissal Hymn of the Forefeast (Fourth Tone)
Joseph was amazed

Be ready Bethlehem, Eden has opened to all. Ephratha, prepare yourself, for now, behold, the Tree of life has blossomed forth in the cave from the holy Virgin. Her womb has proved a true spiritual Paradise, wherein the divine and saving Tree is found, and as we eat thereof we shall all live, and shall not die as did Adam. For Christ is born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime.

Dismissal Hymn of the Saint (Fourth Tone)

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, you found discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, you also contested for the Faith even to blood, O Hieromartyr Ignatius. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of the Forefeast (Third Tone)
On this day the Virgin

On this day the Virgin comes to the cave to give birth to God the Word ineffably, Who was before all the ages. Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.

Kontakion of the Saint (Third Tone)
On this day the Virgin

The divine and brilliant day of thine illustrious contests proclaim to all mankind Him that was born of a Virgin; for it was for Him that you thirsted to delight in, and hurried to be devoured by beasts in thy longing. Hence, O glorious Ignatius, the name God-bearer was rightly given to you.