28 June 2010

Saint Irenaeus

28 JUNE 2010. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of a Saint Irenaeus, a bishop and martyr of the early Church that dedicated himself to finding peace in the Church.

Saint Irenaeus was born around A.D. 130. He was educated in Symrna and became a disciple of Saint Polycarp, the bishop in that city (and, tradition tells, a disciple of Saint John the Apostle). During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, in A.D. 177 Irenaeus was ordained a priest at Lyons and shortly after was ordained bishop of Lyons. He composed many works that defended the Catholic faith against the Gnostic heresy and other untruths, and it is believed that he received the martyr's crown in about A.D. 202.

Generally accepted as the most important of Saint Irenaeus' writings, Adversus Haereses ("Against Heresies") is a five volume refutation of the Gnostic heresy, that seeks to persuade, through reason and reliance on Holy Scripture, the error of Gnosticisim. Battling against heresy, Saint Irenaeus' writings also disclose that the true path to Scripture interpretation--to the oral teaching tradition of the Chruch--is only through the bishops of the Church.

Saint Irenaeus' theology centered on his teaching of the unity of Christ with the God the Father and the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the Gnostic beliefes that divided the nature of God. And, Saint Irenaeus was among the first of the Church fathers to develop a full mariology to explain and teach Mary's role in salvation history.


you called Saint Irenaeus to uphold your truth
and bring peace to your Church.
By his prayers renew us in faith and love
that we may always be intent
on fostering unity and peace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


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