Prayers of the Saints: St. Irenaeus

Published on Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:00
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

Prayers of the Saints: St. Irenaeus

From the Stewardship Today Archives, June 2012

A tribute to his humility as well as his intellect and scholarship, Irenaeus of Lyons achieved great notoriety for his work on behalf of the early church in the decades following his death. Church history reveals St. Irenaeus was a disciple of the early church martyr St. Polycarp, himself a student of St. John the Apostle, providing—in Irenaeus—a unique and direct connection to the Savior and the apostolic founders of the Church. Though likely born in St. Polycarp’s native Smyrna, the greatest contributions of the future Bishop of Lyons came after his relocation to what is now modern France. Raised in a Christian home, St. Irenaeus brought to both his study and his proclamation of the gospel a level of theological orthodoxy perfectly suited to combat the growing prevalence of Gnostic belief in the second century. A Latin translation of his influential five-volume work Against Heresies remains and has proven a significantly influential defense of the Catholic faith.

His belief in an actively sovereign God is reflected in a traditional prayer attributed to him. “It is not thou that shapest God; it is God that shapest thee. If thou art the work of God, await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season. Offer him thy heart—soft and tractable, and keep the form in which the artist has fashioned thee. Let thy clay be moist, lest thou grow hard and lose the imprint of his fingers.”