Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons

28 June -- Lesser Festival -- Teacher of the Faith -- White

Irenæus was probably a native of Smyrna, born in about 130. As a boy, he had heard Polycarp preach, who had in turn been a disciple of the apostle John. Irenæus is thus one of the important connections between the apostolic Church and the second century. He studied at Rome, and later became a priest at Lyons in Gaul, succeeding as bishop upon the martyrdom of his predecessor in 177. He contended against the mythological, unhistorical beliefs of the Gnostics, giving positive value to the full humanity of the incarnate Christ, and affirmed the public teaching rôle of the episcopate to combat false doctrine. He is honoured as the first great Catholic theologian, one who drew upon the emerging traditions of East and West. Irenæus is believed to have been martyred in about the year 200.


God of peace,
who through the ministry of your servant Irenæus,
strengthened the true faith
and brought harmony to your Church:
keep us steadfast in your true religion,
and renew us in faith and love,
that we may always walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the Wisdom of Solomon.

Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to sceptres and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases. May God grant me to speak with judgement, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received; for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. For both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts.

This is the word of the Lord.         Wisdom 7. 7-10, 15-16

Responsorial Psalm

RCome, children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who among you loves life
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
Keep your tongue from evil-speaking
and your lips from lying words. R

Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry. R

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears them
and delivers them from all their troubles. R          From Psalm 34

A reading from the Second Letter of Peter.

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Belovèd, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

This is the word of the Lord.         2 Peter 1. 16-21

Post Communion

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
   of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with your servant Irenæus
   to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.