Friday, 28 June 2013
He was born into a Christian family in the early second Century, in Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey), where he was a student of Saint Polycarp. Whilst working as a priest in Lyon, during the persecution by Marcus Aurelius, he was sent with a letter to Pope Eleuterus concerning the heresy Montanism; during his absence, a massacre of Christians took place, and on his return he was elected as second Bishop of Lyon, following Saint Pothinus who had been martyred.
It was in the period following this persecution that he devoted himself to his writing and his duties as pastor. His attacks on the Gnostics emphasised the importance of apostolic succession, via the bishops installed in cities throughout Christendom, and also the position of authority held by the bishop of Rome, against the Gnostics who claimed to receive a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself.
Following his death, he was buried under the Church of Saint John in Lyon, where his tomb remained until its destruction in 1562 by the Huguenots.
God of peace,
who through the ministry of your servant Irenaeus
strengthened the true faith
and brought harmony to your Church:
keep us steadfast in your true religion,
and renew us in faith and love,
that we may always walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.