Saint Hilary of Poitiers
Saint Hilary of Poitiers is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic Church today.
With extensive writings on theology, Saint Hilary wasn’t just the first Latin writer to introduce Greek doctrine to Western Christianity, he is also named a doctor of the Church today. Saint Hilary was Bishop of Poitiers and fought against Arianism.
Saint Hilary was nicknamed “the Hammer of Arians” and “Athanasius of the West”. He is believed by some to be the Patron saint of Lawyers.
Although Saint Hilary believed in the Divinity of God, it hadn’t always been that way.
The date of birth of Saint Hilary can not be pinpointed or started as a fact. Saint Hilary was born in Poitiers between the ending of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century A.D. He was born a pagan to pagan parents.
Saint Hilary grew to receive an extensive and quality education in various subjects including Greek. He took great interest in the writing of the Old and New Testaments. He was so invested in the writings that he took interest in the religion and abandoned Neoplatonism for Christianity.
Saint Hilary was held in high esteem so much that between the years 350 and 353, he was voted Bishop by all of Poitier.
Dedication and Devotion
It was at that time that the Arian Heresy threatened to take down Orthodox Christian Church. Hilary took a stand against the Arians, refusing to let their belief be forced upon the people.
One of the methods by which Saint Hilary took a stand against Arianism was by protecting the excommunication. Saint Hilary also sent a letter to Constantius II, a Roman Emperor who backed the Arians. His efforts to convince the Emperor to stop the persecutions of Orthodox Christians however were not successful.
Between the years 356 and 360, Saint Hilary was banished to Phrygia, somewhere in Ancient Greece, by the Command of Constantius as a punishment for not renouncing in support of Arian’s biggest enemy, Saint Athanasius the Great.
While in exile, Saint Hilary remained Bishop and continued to guide his people. He continued to write while in exile, creating books that would continue to be important to theology in the coming years.
Saint Hilary continued to remain a staunch believer in the divinity of God’s trinity. He continued to attend synods. He continued and failed to secure a chance to see Constantius in order to plead for public debates with his opponents. He didn’t stop until his opponents considered him a threat and had him returned home to his diocese.
On return to his diocese, Saint Hilary continued to fight against Arianism, striving to call out the semi-Arian Bishops in Gaul, Germania, and Britain. In 364, Saint Hilary impeached Auxentius, a Bishop who supported the Arians but as a result got exiled from Milan.
He continued to write about his failed attempts against the Arians, some of his works exposing bishops and rulers who stood in full support of the Arians.
Death and Canonization
Saint Hilary of Poitiers died in 367. He is highly respected and his works continue to remain influential in Christianity today.
Saint Hilary was declared a doctor of the church in 1851. He is celebrated by the Catholic Church and remembered by the Anglican Communion on the 13th of January.
5 Interesting Facts About Saint Hilary of Poitiers
- Did you know that some people consider Saint Hilary as the first Latin Christian hymn writer? It is speculated that he has three hymns attributed to him.
- Did you know that Saint Hilary’s daughter Abra is a venerated saint? Saint Abra was a Nun although she was also born a pagan. She took a vow of virginity at her father’s advice
- Did you know that Saint Hilary is also cited as a patron against snake bites, snakes, and rheumatism
- Did you know that Saint Hilary wrote the first Latin Commentary on Matthew to have survived till today? He did this in his book Commentarius in Evangelium Matthaei, which he wrote before the exile.
- Did you know Saint Hilary’s major impact on theology was the 12 books he wrote during exile? The books are known as De Trinitate.
Prayer to Saint Hilary of Poitiers
Grant, we pray You, Almighty God, that the example of St Hilary and that of all Your Saints may lead us to a better life, so that by keeping their feast-days we may be brought to imitate their good deeds.St Hilary was a champion of the Truth; may we never tell lies to excuse ourselves, to hurt others, to gain, or to make ourselves look more important. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.