Irenaeus, Saint

Irenaeus, Saint

biographical name

(born c. 120/140, Asia Minor—died c. 200/203, probably Lyon; Western feast day June 28; Eastern feast day August 23) Bishop and theologian. Born of Greek parents, he was a missionary to Gaul before being named bishop of Lugdunum (modern Lyon, France). All his major works, including Against Heresies, were written in opposition to Gnosticism. To counteract Gnostic influence, he promoted the development of an authoritative canon of the New Testament. His defense of the belief that the Christian God and the God of the Old Testament were identical led to the development of the Apostles' Creed. His writings against the Gnostics also supported the authority of the bishops, and he claimed that the bishops of various cities were known as far back as the Apostles (see apostolic succession). His works have proved a valuable source of information on the Gnostics, because he gave accurate summaries of their beliefs before refuting them.

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