Why were the early Christians in persecuted in Rome? The answer has to do with the laws of the Romans. The Romans were very lawful and did not take kindly to those that broke the law. Christians are instructed to worship one God, the True God. However, Roman law commanded that all citizens worship certain gods throughout the city. Therefore, when the Christians ignored the law, they were tried and punished. Because many Christians in this period held fast to their beliefs, they became martyrs, giving their lives because they refused to accept the Roman law to worship other gods.
Ignatius was one such martyr. Ignatius believed so wholly in the idea of Jesus' death on the cross that he felt it was impossible for him to fully achieve heaven without experiencing a death similar to that of Jesus. "For he [Ignatius] inwardly reflected, that the confession which is made by martyrdom, would bring him into a yet more intimate relation to the Lord." From The Martyrdom of Ignatius. Therefore, he refused to obey the Roman law and was happy when he was taken prisoner, for he knew that it meant martyrdom in the Colosseum in Rome. Some of Ignatius' followers in Rome were plotting to kidnap him from the guards and save him from a bloody death by lions. Ignatius caught wind of this plan and sent a letter to the Christians in Rome urging them to not interfere with the fate he had coming.
Ignatius was not the first, or the last, of the martyrs. Christian history is scattered with stories of martyrdom. A couple other famous martyrs from this period are Polycarp, a friend of Ignatius, and Justin, the Martyr.