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St. Hilary of Poitiers


Name: St. Hilary of Poitiers
Date: 14 January

Saint Hilary was a native of Poitiers in Aquitaine. Born and educated a pagan, it was not untilnear middle age that he embraced Christianity, moved to that step primarily by the idea of Godpresented to him in the Holy Scriptures. He soon converted his wife and daughter, and separatedhimself rigidly from all non-Catholic company, fearing the influence of error, rampant in a numberof false philosophies and heresies, for himself and his family.

He entered Holy Orders with the consent of his very virtuous wife, and separated from his familyas was required of the clergy. He later wrote a very famous letter to his dearly-loved daughter,encouraging her to adopt a consecrated life. She followed this counsel and died, still young, a holydeath.

In 353 Saint Hilary was chosen bishop of his native city. Arianism, under the protection of theEmperor Constantius, was then at the heights of its exaltation, and Saint Hilary found himselfcalled upon to support the orthodox cause in several Gallic councils, in which Arian bishopsformed an overwhelming majority. He was in consequence accused to the emperor, who banishedhim to Phrygia. He spent his more than three years of exile in composing his great works on theTrinity.

In 359 he attended the Council of Seleucia, in which Arians, semi-Arians, and Catholicscontended for the mastery. He never ceased his combat against the errors of the enemies of theDivinity of Christ. With the deputies of the council he went to Constantinople, and there sodismayed the heads of the Arian party that they prevailed upon the emperor to let him return toGaul. He traversed Gaul, Italy and Illyria, preaching wherever he went, disconcerting the hereticsand procuring the triumph of orthodoxy. He wrote a famous treatise on the Synods. After someeight years of missionary travel he returned to Poitiers, where he died in peace in 368.


Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints


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