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E01662: The Latin Martyrdom of *Irenaeus of Sirmium (martyr S00695), probably of the late 4th c., recounts the martyrdom of a young bishop on 6 April 304. Probably written in Sirmium (middle Danube).

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posted on 2016-06-26, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium (Latin version: BHL 4466)


(1) Under Diocletian and Maximian, a persecution of Christians occurs and Irenaeus, bishop of Sirmium, is arrested. (2) He is presented to the provincial governor of Pannonia, Probus, who demands that he sacrifice according to the imperial decrees, but he refuses to. (3) Irenaeus’ relatives, children, and wife come and implore him to change his mind, but he remains steadfast. (4) At midnight, Irenaeus is presented again to Probus and his tribunal, who orders him to sacrifice, but Irenaeus again refuses. He is beaten with clubs, but the martyr still refuses to worship gods made by human hands. Probus advises him to spare himself from death, but Irenaeus regards it as passage to eternal life. The governor then asks him about his relatives, but the bishop replies that he has no relatives, and that, according to Christ’s commandment, those who love their relatives more than him are not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37). Probus admonishes him to sacrifice for the sake of his children, but Irenaeus says that God will take care of them. The governor condemns the martyr to be thrown into the river, but the martyr replies that he had expected multiple torments and death by the sword. (5) Probus orders Irenaeus’s execution by the sword, and the martyr gives thanks to God. He is taken to a bridge of the river Savus, called pons Basentis, where he takes off his clothes and says his last prayer, offering his spirit on behalf of the people and the Catholic Church, and requesting that the people be confirmed in the faith. He is decapitated and thrown into the river. (6) His martyrdom took place on 6 April, under Diocletian and Maximian.

Text: Musurillo 1972.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Irenaeus, martyred bishop of Sirmium : S00695

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Place of Evidence - Region

Dalmatia, Pannonia and the Upper Danube

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Sirmium Epidauros Ἐπίδαυρος Epidauros Epidaurus Cavtat

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium has survived in over forty manuscripts from the 10th to the 17th century. On the manuscript tradition of the text, see Dolbeau 1999.


The Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium is the only survivor of a number of martyrdom accounts concerning the martyrs of Sirmium, which were probably written in the late 4th century. The text has been classified among the so-called acta sincera, namely martyrdom accounts of a strongly factual outlook, devoid of extravagant or legendary elements. According to the Hieronymian and Syriac martyrologies, the festival of Irenaeus on 6 April was followed by the festivals of the presbyter *Montanus (S00696) on 7 April and the deacon *Demetrius (S00697) on 9 April, thus probably constituting a feast of four days, perhaps the most important festival of the 4th-century Church of Sirmium. The hagiographies of the other two saints have not survived, but their martyrdoms are said to have taken place during the same persecution, following the fourth anti-Christian edict of Diocletian in early 304. This is reported by the also surviving Martyrdom of *Pullio of Cibalae (E01095). The survival of the Martyrdom of Irenaeus is quite remarkable, especially since there is also a Greek version of it (E01663). Given the fact that the church of Pannonia was Latin speaking, it is probable that the Latin version precedes the Greek one chronologically. The broad circulation of the text suggests that Irenaeus was one of the most prominent martyrs of Sirmium.


Text, translations, and commentaries: Dolbeau, F., "Le dossier hagiographique d’Irénée, évêque de Sirmium," Antiquité Tardive 7 (1999), 205-214. Musurillo, H., The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 294-301.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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