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Saturday, 13 July 2024
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St Irenaeus


St. Irenaeus was born in Smyrna (in Turkey) in 130 A.D. He was not ordained a priest until he was 47 years old. Irenaeus was well educated, and had been influenced as a youth by St. Polycarp, who was bishop of that area, and had been a disciple of the apostle John. Later Polycarp sent him on mission to Gaul (France), where Irenaeus became bishop of Lyons. Irenaeus had a thorough knowledge of Jewish and Christian Scriptures and of a wide range of Greek literature and philosophy.

The great challenge to his episcopate was the spread of Gnosticism, which was gaining many followers. Gnosticism was a heresy of the early Church which held that special knowledge, secretly revealed, was necessary for salvation.

Irenaeus made a detailed examination of the tenets and practices of the many local sects in Gaul, and then wrote a clear refutation of their teachings (Against the Heresies), a work that accomplished its purpose. St. Irenaeus was martyred in 202.

Heresies of the early Church