“And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary and her child-bearing and likewise also the death of the Lord—three mysteries to be cried aloud—which were accomplished in the silence of God. How then were they made manifest to the ages? A star shone forth in the heaven above all the stars; and its light was unutterable and its strangeness caused amazement; and all the rest of the constellations with the sun and moon formed themselves into a chorus about the star; but the star itself far outshone them all; and there was perplexity to know whence came this strange appearance which was so unlike them. From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanished away, the ancient kingdom was pulled down, when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life; and that which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take effect. From that time on, all things were put in commotion because the dissolution of death was taking place.”
-Ignatius of Antioch (martyred during the reign of the
emperor Trajan [98-117 CE]), letter to the Ephesians, chapter 19;
written during his journey as a prisoner to Rome.
Translation J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer (1984),
with occasional substitutions from Bart Ehrman’s translation (2003).