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Today the church remembers Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202.Scarcely had the blood of the Martyrs of Lyons (see June 2) dried before Irenaeus was consecrated Bishop of Lyons. He had narrowly escaped the persecution himself, being on church business in Rome at the time. As a boy Irenaeus had learned the Christian faith at the knee of Polycarp (see February 23) in his native Smyrna. After a period of study in Rome he moved to Gaul (France), where he was elected bishop. He served Lyons in that capacity for a quarter of a century and during that time sufficiently influenced the whole church that he came to be regarded as one of the Fathers. Irenaeus wrote a number of significant letters, an essay entitled “The Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching,” and a major work Against Heresies, all in Greek. He was an avid student of the Holy Scriptures, a tireless pastor, and the first great theologian of the Western Church. He was a champion of orthodoxy against Gnosticism, a champion of episcopal polity and of the canonical Scriptures. Today"s heirs of Irenaeus live the life of faith expounded in the church"s doctrine, are loyal to their bishops and pastors, and diligently study the Holy Bible. Almighty God, who did uphold your servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every wind of vain doctrine: We beseech you to keep us steadfast in your true religion, and to walk in constancy. Amen.
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Almighty God, you upheld your servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we pray, steadfast in your true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.