Eleutherus (2)

Eleutherus or Eleutherius, a native of Nicopolis, elected bishop of Rome after the death of Soter, May 3, 177. He is previously (168) mentioned as a deacon of bishop Anicetus of Rome. He opposed with much zeal the errors of the Valentinians during his tenure of office. Two events are reported to have rendered his pontificate memorable: the glorious death of the martyrs of Lyons and Vienne (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 5:4), and an embassy from Lucius, king of Great Britain, to demand a missionary to teach the Britons the Christian religion (Bede, Hist. Eccl. 3:25; Collier, Eccl. Hist. 1:35). The churches of Lyons and Vienne sent to him the acts of those of their members who had Just suffered martyrdom. Their messenger was the; presbyter Irenaeus, subsequently celebrated as one of the pillars of the Church in Gaul. As the letter of these churches to Eleutheo us warns against the Montanists, some have inferred, though without being supported by any other proof, that Eleutherus was an adherent of the Montanist sect. The legend about the embassy of king Lucius, and the subsequent mission of two Roman missionaries to England, is doubted by many historians. Eleutherus died A.D. 192. He is commemorated in the Church of Rome as a saint on the 26th of May. See Mosheim, Comment. 1:273; Neander, Planting and Training, 2:518; Smith. Religion of Ancient Britain, pages 121, 122; Herzog, Real-Encykl. in, 753. (A.J.S.)

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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