This early Christian theologian passed on the apostolic tradition to a new generation as he helped evangelize France. Born in Asia Minor, possibly at Smyrna, Irenaeus was taught by St. Polycarp, a pupil of St. John the Apostle. Sent to Gaul as a missionary, he served as a priest under St. Pothinus of Lyons, a martyr whom he succeeded as bishop of the large market city on the Rhone. Irenaeus continued to spread the Gospel and opposed the gnostic heresy, writing a five-book treatise that is extant. During a 20-year episcopate, he spoke the language of Gaul instead of his native Greek, and worked hard to identify with his people. Little else is known about his life or death.