May 5

St. Hilary of Arles

St. Hilary of Arles

Saints are not without sin and could also get ahead of themselves whileworking on getting things done. This is true for today’s saint. Young,enthusiastic, and devoted to the service of God. Hilarius, as it iscalled in Latin, overreached himself at some point and got a knock forit.

Notwithstanding, his love for God and life of holiness could be seen byeveryone.

Young Hilary

Hilary was born probably in 401AD, early fifth century, into anaristocratic family in Gaul, Lorraine, today’s present-day France. Thename Hilary means ‘Cheerful.’

As per a boy born into a household of standing like his, he had anexcellent education. His study covered liberal arts, polite learning,eloquence, and philosophy.

We could all agree he had the good things of life nobility couldprovide. At an early stage of his life, he wasn’t interested inreligion. He was yet to encounter God or his faithfulness. It appearedhe would be pursuing a path of the secular profession.

This was till his path crossed with that of his kinsman Honoratus.

The God-Experience

Honoratus had abandoned the country in search of christ in solitude. Hehad founded a great monastery in the isle of Lerins. He had loved Hilaryas his friend and strongly wanted to help his friend break the chainsand charms of the deceitful world in which he was deeply plunged.

Honoratus sought out Hilary to show him the light of Jesus, but Hilarywas a rebellious soul to the gospel. Therefore, Honoratus went to God inprayer. It was stated he had said to him, “I will obtain of God what youwill not grant me.”

Internal conflict arose in Hilary after Honoratus, his friend, haddeparted. He felt God’s mercy calling out to him. Three days later, hewent searching for his friend, a changed man.

No doubt was left in anyone who met him that the young man had decidedto save his soul. Everything about him was different, inward andoutwards. His words, looks, character, humility, patience reflectsvirtues of purity.

Hilary went home, sold his estates and assets to his brother. Hedistributed all he had made from the sale to charity and made his way toAbbey of Lerins, where he joined the monastic life of prayer andcontemplation.

Bishop of Arles

Honoratus was appointed Bishop of Arles in 426, while Hilary remained atthe monastery in Lerins. Honoratus had himself went to fetch Hilary whenhe refused to join him at Arles, preferring the solitude of life as amonk.

Honoratus passed on in 429, and Hilary set out on his way back to theabbey of Lerins. He was apprehended by the local faithful of Arles tosucceed his kinsman. Many have heard and seen his devotion to God andhelping the poor.

Just at 29, Hilary became the Bishop of Arles. The youthful bishopworked with so much vigor. He introduced many reforms in the church,assisted in many councils, strengthened discipline in local churches,continued in his work for the poor, build many monasteries, and livedwith few possessions.

Too Hasty?

His zeal to get things done correctly got the young bishop in troubledwaters. He had deposed the bishop of Besancon, Chelidonus, forneglecting his priority. Also, on the accusation that the bishop hadmarried a widow and sentenced people to death while he was a magistrate,before his ordination. These irregularities were grounds fordisqualification from the holy order.

His action was said to be outside his jurisdiction. He had also replacedProjectus, a sick bishop in his province, with another, while the formerwas not dead.

His intentions might have been right, but his actions were hasty.Following an appeal to Pope Leo, the Pope reversed his actions. Hefurther denied him his metropolitan rights but did not remove him fromhis position as a bishop.

Throughout his ordeal, Hilary exhibited great humility and was patient.He never stopped working for the common good of all.

Call to Glory

Exhausted by the life of austerity and constant labors, Hilary, thebishop of Arles, joined the good lord on the 5th of May,449. He was 48.

Hillary’s name later entered the Roman Martyrology.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Hilary of Arles

  1. Are you aware that Hilary did manual labor to earn money for the
    poor, even as a Bishop? He was compassionate even to a fault.
  2. His methods of ecclesiastical decisions were questioned but never
    his faith or holiness.
  3. Hilary traveled everywhere on foot and was always dressed simply. He
    was very detached from material concerns.
  4. He was obedient while facing sanctions from the Pope and never
    neglected his duties.
  5. Mercy or keeping the rule, which do you think should come first?
    Hilary sold sacred vessels and church properties to ransom
    captives. He chose mercy.

Prayer to St. Hilary of Arles

There is no official prayer to Saint Hilary of Arles.