Irenaeus becomes bishop following the brutal martyrdoms that ravaged the Christian communities of Vienne and Lyons toward the end of the second century. This conflict is recounted in an encyclical letter titled “The Testimony of those Perfected in Lugdunum.” 1 The letter is a highly rhetorical presentation that not only records the events of the conflict, but also portrays them as full of theological meaning. The church’s conflict is not with the pagan mob or Roman authorities, but with Satan himself who is described as “swooping down with full force (σθένει).” While Satan is characterized as wielding power, the strength of God’s grace is manifested in protecting “the weak (ἀσθενεις).” The martyrs are “sturdy pillars” who “by their endurance 2 take on themselves (εἰς ἑαυτοὺς ἑλκύσαι) all the attacks of the evil one.” 3 The martyrs do not suffer as isolated individuals, but according to their place in the corporate gathering of the church. The passionate anger and hatred directed toward the whole church is gathered up and endured by the strong in order to save the weak. Thus, while Satan disdains weakness and wields a power that destroys the infirm, the love of God is manifested in the power that protects the weak and is even made perfect in and through weakness.