August 23, 2018

Holy Hieromartyr Irenaeus, Bishop of Sirmium (+ 304)

St. Irenaeus of Sirmium (Feast Day - August 23)


Sirmium partook in the death by beheading,
From the bridge bathing in the waters of the river.

Saint Irenaeus suffered during the persecution against Christians under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305).

He was a presbyter, and he and his wife raised their children in Christian piety. Saint Irenaeus was greatly respected for his education and strict manner of life.

He was later made Bishop of Sirmium in Pannonia, which is now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia. Because of his fervent preaching of the Gospel he was arrested and brought before an official named Probus. Refusing to deny Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, the Saint was handed over for torture. Witnessing his torments were the Saint’s parents, relatives and friends, who attempted to persuade him to submit, but the martyr remained steadfast.

After cruel tortures, the holy confessor spent a long time in prison. Probus tried to persuade the martyr, urging him to spare his life for the sake of his sons. Saint Irenaeus replied, “My sons believe in God, Who will care for them. As for me, nothing will force me to renounce my Christ.”

The governor ordered the Saint to be thrown into a river. They led the martyr on the bridge crossing the River Sava, where he knelt and prayed to the Lord for his flock. Then they beheaded the Hieromartyr Irenaeus, and threw his body into the river in 304.

The Slavic Churches celebrate Saint Irenaeus on March 26th, while the Greek Churches celebrate him on August 23rd. In his honor, the new pedestrian bridge of Sremska Mitrovica is named after the Saint, and is said to have been the location of the bridge from which the Saint was thrown into the river.

Sing now and clap your hands, O Church of Sirmium. Leap up, ye waters of the River Sava, adorning thyself in the name of the all-praised Irenaeus. For, having fought the good fight and kept the faith, sealing it with his blood, he hath acquired great boldness before God, Whom he entreated without ceasing, that his Christian flock be saved in peace.