(circa 130 - 202)
The precise year of the birth of Irenaeus is unknown although it is presumed that this father of the Catholic Church was born at Smyrna (today Izmir, Turkey) in the year 130 AD. In his youth, Irenaeus was strongly influenced by St. Polycarp*, whose teachings he treasured "not on paper but in my heart, for the things we learnt in childhood are part of our soul." Irenaeus studied in Rome and then became a priest of Lyons, the principal bishopric of Gaul. During a sudden persecution, which caused the imprisonment of many of its members, the church of Lyons sent Irenaeus to Rome with a letter for the pope. This letter urged leniency towards the Montanists in Phrygia, a sect with whom Irenaeus had little sympathy.
* St. Polycarp: Bishop of Smyrna and martyr (circa 69 - 155)