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E01663: Greek version of the Martyrdom of *Irenaeus of Sirmium (martyr, S00695), of an uncertain date in the 4th-9th c., recounts the martyrdom of the young bishop of Sirmium (middle Danube) on 21 August.

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posted on 2016-06-26, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium (Greek version: BHG 948)

Cf. the Latin version in E01662


(1) Under Diocletian, Maximian, and Constantius, a persecution of Christians occurs and Irenaeus, the young bishop of Sirmium, is arrested. (2) Irenaeus’ children, parents, wife, and relatives implore him to change his mind, but he remains steadfast. (3) He is presented to the provincial governor of Pannonia, Probus, who demands that he sacrifice according to the imperial decrees, but he refuses to. He is incarcerated for several days, and is presented again to Probus, who presides over the trial at midnight. Irenaeus is tortured, but always refuses to sacrifice. Probus advises him to spare himself from death, but Irenaeus prefers eternal life. The governor then asks him about his relatives, but the bishop replies that he has no relatives, according to Christ’s commandment that those who love their relatives more than him are not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37). (4) 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 to be put to death by the sword. (5) Probus orders Irenaeus’s execution by the sword, and the martyr gives thanks to God. He is taken to the bridge of Artemis over the river Savus, where he addresses 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 21 August, under Probus.

Text: Acta Sanctorum Mart. III, d. 25, 23A.
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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Place of Evidence - Region

Dalmatia, Pannonia and the Upper Danube Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Sirmium Epidauros Ἐπίδαυρος Epidauros Epidaurus Cavtat Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The text is preserved in five manuscripts of the 10th and 11th centuries, and one of the 17th/18th, on which see: An edition of BHG 948 can be found in Acta Sanctorum Mart. III, d. 25, 23A.


The text recounts the same story as the Latin version (E01662), translating large sections, but with slight differences in structure, abridgements and additions. It is likely to have been based on a recension of the Latin passio, which differs from the extant one. The Greek version of the Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium is the only piece of Pannonian hagiography, which was successfully transmitted into the Greek ecclesiastical tradition. It is unknown when and where this version was produced. An early date for the production of this translation, before the Avar conquest of Sirmium in 582, would seem very likely. The existence of the translation probably played a role in the successful transmission of Irenaeus’ cult into the Greek ecclesiastical tradition. Irenaeus is the only martyr of Sirmium whose origin is mentioned in the tenth-century Synaxarium of the Church of Constantinople (Aug. 23, ed. de Smedt / Delehaye, Acta Sanctorum, Nov. Propylaeum, 1902, p. 917). It is thus possible that the Greek text was written in Constantinople, though the saint does not seem to have enjoyed any prominence of cult in the Byzantine capital: there was no church or chapel dedicated to him, and there seems to have been no synaxis held in his memory. A remarkable element is the date of the feast. The Latin hagiography and the early martyrologies give 6 April (), while the Greek passio gives 21 August, and the Constantinopolitan Synaxarium places the feast on 21 and 23 August, grouping him together with the feast of *Irenaeus of Lyon and the *Martyrs of Lyon.


Text: An edition of BHG 948 can be found in Acta Sanctorum Mart. III, d. 25, 23A. Further reading: Simonetti, M. Studi agiografici, Roma, 1955, 55-75. Smirnov-Brkić, A., and Draganić, I. "Latin and Greek Recensions of the Passion of St. Irenaeus of Sirmium." In Constantine, Sirmium and Early Christianity, 25-45. Sremska Mitrovica 2014.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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