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Our Holy Father Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons

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August 23

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The Holy Hieromartyr Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor about the year 120, and in his youth was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Saint Irenaeus was sent to Lyons in Gaul, to be a fellow labourer of Pothinus, Bishop of Lyons (celebrated June 2), who had also been a disciple Saint Polycarp. After the martyrdom of Saint Pothinus, Saint Irenaeus succeeded him as Bishop of Lyons. Besides the assaults of paganism, Irenaeus found himself compelled to do battle with many Gnostic heresies, against which he wrote his greatest work, A Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called . He was also a peace-maker within the Church. When Victor, Bishop of Rome, was prepared to excommunicate the Christians of Asia Minor for following a different tradition celebrating Pascha, Irenaeus persuaded him to moderate his zeal, and mediated peace. He made Lyons an illustrious bastion of Orthodoxy and a school of piety, and sealed his confession with martyrdom about the year 202, during the reign of Septimius Severus. He is not to be confused with Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Sirmium, also celebrated today, who was beheaded and cast into a river in 304 under Diocletian.