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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

According to St. Gregory of Tours, Irenaeus (in French, Irénée) was sent by St. Polycarp to Lyon, where he succeeded the martyred protobishop St. Photinus (Pothinus).  We know from Irenaeus' own writings that he was a Greek of Asia Minor; if the connection with Polycarp is accurately reported, he will have come from Smyrna.  He was already in Lyon by 177 or 178, when the church there sent him to Rome with an anti-Montanist tract.  It was on his return that Irenaeus succeeded Photinus, who had been killed in the persecution of Marcus Aurelius.

Little is known about Irenaeus as bishop.  According to Gregory, through Irenaeus' preaching Lyon became an entirely Christian city.  Eusebius provides a list of Irenaeus' writings, most of which have perished.  His chief work, a defence of apostolic tradition against other Christian viewpoints, principally Gnosticism, is generally known by the name of the Latin translation in which it survives entire (_Adversus haereses_).  The year of his death is unknown.  St. Jerome considered Irenaeus a martyr.  Though the accuracy of that view is now widely questioned, it was routinely accepted in the Middle Ages and was given narrative treatment in a number of Vitae and Passiones (BHL 4457-4463).  He is entered under today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, in the ninth-century martyrologies of St. Ado of Vienne and Usuard of Saint-Germain, and in the modern general Roman Calendar.


Some period-pertinent images of St. Irenaeus of Lyon:

a) as depicted (four times) in a ninth-century copy of St. John Damascene's _Parallela sacra_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 923, fol. 309v):
1) fol. 126r (right margin, roundel at top):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b525013124/f255.item.zoom
2) fol. 179v (left margin, top figure):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b525013124/f362.item.zoom
3) fol. 273v (left margin, second figure from top):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b525013124/f550.item.zoom
4) fol. 374v (left margin, roundel at top):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b525013124/f752.item.zoom

b) as depicted (martyrs; Irenaeus individuated in the heading but not in the image) in a French-language _Vie e passion_ as transmitted in a thirteenth-century collection of miracles of the BVM, saint's legends, and other texts (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 818, fol. 298v):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10507337z/f602.item.r=Fran%C3%A7ais%20818.zoom

c) as depicted in grisaille (martyrdom) in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1455; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 309, fol. 110v):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105295945/f228.item.zoom

d) as depicted (martyrdom with others of the church of Lyon) in a later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1463; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 37v):
http://tinyurl.com/2bdv5ex

Best,
John Dillon
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