Saint Irenaeus of Lyons to be Proclaimed a ‘Doctor of the Church’

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described St. Irenaeus of Lyons as ‘a pastor and champion in the fight against heresies’.

Newsroom (08/10/2021 23:25, Gaudium Press) On Thursday morning, October 7, during his address to members of the Orthodox-Catholic ‘St. Irenaeus’ Joint Working Group, Pope Francis announced that he will proclaim St. Irenaeus of Lyon a Doctor of the Church with the title ‘Doctor Unitatis’ (Doctor of Unity).

Highlighting the primary importance of the figure of St. Irenaeus in the history of the Church as “a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians”, the Pontiff recalled that the name ‘Irenaeus’, has its root in the Greek word Ειρηναίος (Eirenaios), which means peaceful, a peacemaker, seraphic in nature.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, and arrived in Gaul in the year 177. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, and was the first Christian theologian to attempt to draw up a global synthesis of early Christianity. His native language was Greek, thus he had to learn other languages in order to evangelize the Celts and the Germanics.

Saint Irenaeus lived in a period of severe persecution of Christians and in a historical period marked by two great cultural events: the emergence of Gnosticism in the Christian sphere, and the spread of Neoplatonism in the pagan world. In this light, he attacked the errors that existed in Gnosticism. The following titles remain of his written works: ‘Against Heresies’ and the ‘Exposition of Apostolic Preaching‘, defined as the oldest catechism of Christian doctrine. (EPC)

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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