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St. Ireneaus of Lyon Declared Doctor of the Church

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

by Margaux Salcedo

On Friday, January 21, 2022, Pope Francis declared St. Ireneaus of Lyon a Doctor of the Church. Read his declaration here:

On Wednesday, at the Pope's General Audience, His Eminence Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, proposed that the Supreme Pontiff accept the affirmative opinion of the Plenary Session of the Cardinals and Bishops who are members of the same Dicastery, regarding the conferral of the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who was probably born in Smyrna (now Turkey) between 130 and 140 and died in Lyons (France) in 202.

St. Irenaeus

St Irenaeus was a Greek bishop who became as bishop of Lugdunum, now Lyon in France. His feast is celebrated on June 28. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, his feast is celebrated on August 23.

He is considered the last known living connection with the Apostles because, originating from Smyrna, he had seen and heard the preaching of Polycarp, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.

Christian Unity

The declaration of St. Ireneaus as doctor of the church comes on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, it runs this 2022 from January 18 to 25, with the theme “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him”, recalling the experience of the Magi, who came from the East to Bethlehem to worship the Messiah King.

It will be remembered that Pope Francis, when he announced that St. Irenaeus would be declared doctor of the church a few years ago, described the saint as a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians.

St. Irenaeus was noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in the southern regions of present-day France.

Doctor of the Church

There were only 36 Doctors of the Church, St. Irenaeus now the 37th. The title is given by the Catholic Church to saints recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing

St. Irenaeus' best-known work is Against Heresies, often cited as Adversus Haereses, a refutation of gnosticism, in particular that of Valentinus. He offered "three pillars of orthodoxy": the scriptures, the tradition handed down from the apostles, and the teaching of the apostles' successors.

St. Irenaeus also emphasized that the surest source of Christian guidance is the church of Rome.

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