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St. Irenaeus To Become Doctor of the Church According to Pope Francis

St. Irenaeus was the last known living connection to the Apostles.

During his audience with members of the St. Irenaeus Orthodox-Catholic Joint Working Group, Pope Francis announced that the Greek bishop will soon be a Doctor of the Church. The saint, whom Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called a “a “champion of the fight against heresies”, will soon be given the title “Doctor unitatis” or doctor of unity.

“I will willingly declare your patron a Doctor of the Church,” Pope Francis told his audience. He added that St. Irenaeus was “a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians.” (Read: 5 Reasons Why St. Clare Should Be One of Your Favorite Saints!)

The Holy Father also shared that the saint’s name means peace, as the Greek word Ειρηναίος (Eirenaios) means “peaceful”. Coincidentally, it was St. Irenaeus’ life mission to foster peace.

Developing Christian theology

A stained-glass window by Lucien Bégule depicting St. Irenaeus at the Church of St, Irenaeus in Lyon, France. (Photo from Gérald Gambier/Wikimedia)

St. Irenaeus, who was born circa 130 AD, was a Greek bishop who played an important role in guiding and expanding the Christian communities in southern regions of what is now Franc. He also helped develop Christian theology by resisting heresy and defining orthodoxy.

The saint, who celebrates his feast day every June 28, is best known for his work “Against Heresies” or Adversus Haereses, which rebuts gnosticism. He was also able to hear preachings of Polycarp–who was said to have heard John the Evangelist. This makes St. Irenaeus the last known living connection to the Apostles. (Read: Meet These 4 Patron Saints of Wine and Winemakers)

Doctor of the Church

Photo from Vatican Media

Doctor of the church is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints who have made significant contributions to theology or the doctrine through their work. These contributions may be in the form of research, study, or writing. Any written work by any of these saints are considered to have ‘special authority’.

Some doctors of the Church are St. Ambrose, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Hildegard of Bingen.

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