28 June 2012

St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy bishop and martyr St. Irenaeus triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor around the year 140. It is not known when he came to Gaul. He was a priest of the Church of Lyons during the persecution of 177 when St. Pothinus, first bishop of the city and the first martyr of Lyons, was put to death. Irenaeus succeeded him as bishop and twenty-five years later was martyred in his turn during a fresh persecution. At a time when Gnostic sects threatened to undermine Christianity by a perversion of Christian thought, St. Irenaeus vigorously denounced all heresies and safeguarded unity of belief by laying down the principles of the doctrinal tradition of the Church.