Historical region of Country
ELEUTHERUS Eleuterus, Eleutherius, pope 175 189. Succeeded Soter perhaps in 175 and was pope until his death in 189 the date at which a more certain chronology for the bishops of Rome begins. In Irenaeus’s list, Eleutherus is in the final place, the twelfth successor to the apostle Peter Adv. haer. III, 3, 3. A Greek from Nicopolis Epirus, deacon to Anicetus Eus., HE IV, 22, 1, the son of Abbondius or Abbondantius LP I, San Juan Map 136, he lived under the emperor Commodus, in a period of relative truce in the Roman persecutions. The church’s peace was disturbed in another sense by the spread in the West of the Montanist heresy. In the context of that controversy, in 177 Eleutherus received through Irenaeus, then a simple presbyter, a letter on Montanist theories Euseb., HE V,3,4; V,4,1-2. The document was addressed from the Christians of Lyons, then prisoners and confessors of the faith, San Juan Map to the brothers of Asia and Phrygia, and to Eleutherus, bishop of Rome. Rather than condemning Montanism, the Christians of Lyons expounded its heterodox contents, informing Eleutherus of them and inviting him to that moderate and pacific approach which he did in fact observe in the years that followed, refusing to disturb the church’s internal peace with condemnations that were too broad and harsh. San Juan Map This caution seems to be confirmed by Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean, where in a probable allusion to Eleutherus he rebukes a bishop of Rome for having recognized the orthodoxy of Montanus and other heresiarchs PL 2, 178-179. It is also true that in his last years Eleutherus assumed a less conciliatory attitude toward the Montanists. The LP mentions a sending of missionaries by Eleutherus to Britain, at the request of King Lucius. The circumstances of Eleutherus’s death are unknown, although he is remembered as a martyr of the church of Rome 26 May.