Saint Eleutherius

Feast Day: May 26th

Saint Eleuterus
2nd Century


Saint Eleutherius was a native of Nicopolis, Greece. From his contemporary Hegesippus we learn that he was a deacon of the Roman Church under Pope Anicetus (c. 154-164), and evidently remained so under St. Soter, the following pope, whom he succeeded about 174. The first firm date in the history of the papacy is the death of Eleutherius in 189. Apart from that, little is known about this pope. Most information about him is from the Liber Pontificalis.

While the condition of Christians under Marcus Aurelius was distressing in various parts of the empire, the persecution in Rome itself does not seem to have been violent. De Rossi, it is true, dates the martyrdom of St. Cecilia towards the end of this emperor’s reign; this date, however, is by no means certain. During the reign of Commodus (180-192) the Christians enjoyed a practically unbroken peace, although the martyrdom of St. Appollonius at Rome took place at the time (180-185).

The Montanist movement, that originated in Asia Minor, made its way to Rome and Gaul in the second half of the second century, more particularly about the reign of Saint Eleutherius; its peculiar nature made it difficult to take from the outset a decisive stand against it. During the violent persecution at Lyons, in 177, local confessors wrote from their prison concerning the new movement to the Asiatic and Phrygian brethren, also to Pope Eleutherius. The bearer of their letter to the pope was the presbyter Irenæus (soon afterwards Bishop of Lyons). It appears from statements of Eusebius concerning these letters that the faithful of Lyons, though opposed to the Montanist movement, advocated forbearance and pleaded for the preservation of ecclesiastical unity.

The “Liber Pontificalis” ascribes to Pope Eleutherius a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians. Possibly he did issue such an edict against the Gnostics and Montanists.





2nd Century AD
Nicopolis, Epirus (Greece)


AD 24 May 189
Rome, Roman Empire




Rome, Italy


Saint Eleutherius (aka Eleuterus or Eleutheros) was the Pope from the years 174 - 189. Little is know about this pope from the early Church.