PATRISTICS/ Irenaeus of Lyons
The holy and glorious, right-victorious Hieromartyr Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202) was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. His writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, who himself was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian. His feast day is August 23.
Irenaeus is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp's hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now Izmir, Turkey. He was brought up in a Christian family, rather than converting as an adult, and this may help explain his strong sense of Orthodoxy. Irenaeus was one of the first Christian writers to refer to the principle of Apostolic Succession to refute his opponents.
Irenaeus' best-known book, "Adversus Haereses" or "Against Heresies" (c.180) is a detailed attack on Gnosticism, which was then a serious threat to the Church, and especially on the system of the Gnostic Valentinus. As one of the first great Christian theologians, he emphasized the traditional elements in the Church, especially the episcopate, Scripture, and tradition. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one doctrinal authority - episcopal councils. Against the Gnostics, who said that they possessed a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles - and none of them were Gnostics - and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. His writings, with those of Clement and Ignatius, are taken to hint at papal primacy. Irenaeus is the earliest witness to recognition of the canonical character of all four gospels.
Irenaeus is remembered as the second bishop of Lyons, although there is no clear evidence that he ever officially assumed the episcopal duties. The first bishop, Pothinus, was martyred around 177 during persecutions under Marcus Aurelius, when Irenaeus was visiting Rome. Irenaeus is remembered as a martyr, although there is no evidence for how he died, presumably shortly after the turn of the third century. He was buried under the church of Saint John in Lyons, which was later renamed St. Irenaeus. His tomb and his remains were destroyed in 1562 by the Calvinist Huguenots. (The remains of Leonardo da Vinci and Kepler, among others, also were lost in the religious wars of those times.)
Irenaeus is recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the Episcopal Church (United States). The Roman Church celebrates his feast day on June 28 and July 3. June 28 is the date recorded in the earliest Roman calendars and so adopted by the 1969 calendar. However, as that date is also the Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Tridentine calendar (including the 1962 calendar) transfers his feast to July 3.