Saint Irenaeus (202)

This great saint was born to Christian parents in Asia minor. He died when he was seventy-two years old, the same age as Our Lady when she died. He is one of the Fathers of the Church and is sometimes called “the father of Catholic theology.” He was a disciple of Saint Polycarp who was in turn a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Saint Irenaeus was sent to Lyons, in France, and was ordained a priest. There he opposed the heresy of Montanism, started by a blasphemer named Montanus, who pretended to be, for all practical purposes, the Holy Ghost. Saint Irenaeus was Bishop of Lyons for twenty-four years. He laid the foundation of the Faith the French had in those days, and were to have completely as a nation when Clovis, their King, became a Catholic in 496. During a fierce persecution of the Catholics in Lyons, when the streets were full of blood, Saint Irenaeus himself was killed, and became a martyr. His body and his relics were placed in the Church of Saint John in Lyons. They were desecrated there by the Calvinists in the year 1562, in the century of the so-called “Reformation.” The most noted of the books he wrote is one called Against Heresies. This is an important part of the substance of what is still good teaching in the Catholic seminaries of our day.

Stained glass window of Saint Irenaeus, Église Saint-Irénée, France photo by Gérald Gambier (source)