We know very little about the life of St. Irenaeus, who is one of the most important theologians of the 2nd century. He was born about 130 in Asia Minor and placed in the care of St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle, and Bishop of Smyrna. He studied in Rome and later became a priest of Lyons in Gaul. In 178, he succeeded St. Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons.
Through his preaching Irenaeus converted many to the faith, and his writing did much to combat the heresies that were rampant, especially, those of the Gnostics and Valentinians. His thought, overwhelmingly Biblical in inspiration, is at once simple, vigorous, and profound. Opposed to the dualism of Gnosticism, it is characterized by a single vision: universal recapitulation in Christ.
Irenaeus’s principal works are: Against Heresies and The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. Accordingly, he is regarded as a link between the East and West. He died a martyr in 202 during the persecution of Septimus Severus.
PRAYER: God, You enabled St. Irenaeus, Your Bishop, to strengthen the truth of faith and the peace of the Church. Through his intercession may we be renewed in faith and love and always strive to foster unity and concord. Amen.