St. Hilary: Heroic Defender of the Faith

Today is the optional memorial of St. Hilary, bishop of Poitiers in the 4th century. Pope Pius IX declared him a "Doctor of the Church," because of his heroic defense of the the Faith against Arians and other heretics. He strongly defended the divinity of Christ, and despite the fact that he was a kind and gentle man, he was viewed as an agitator, a disturber of the peace.

Hillary was born in Poitiers in France in 315 and raised as a pagan. Reading the Bible led to his conversion. He also converted his wife and daughter who enthusiastically embraced the faith. Because celibacy was not a requirement at that time for the clergy, at the age of 35, Hillary was elected as the new Bishop of Poitier. He devoted his tongue and pen to fighting the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, and was exiled for four years in the East for his fidelity to the faith. His writings drew many converts to the faith. Hillary died in 368 A.D. Hilary is sometimes called "the Athanasius of the West."

A favorite motto of St. Hilary was, Ministros veritatis decet vera proferre, "Servants of the truth ought to speak the truth."

St. Hilary confers Minor Orders upon St. Martin.


"Now it is time to speak, the time for silence is past. We must expect Christ's return, for the reign of Antichrist has begun. The shepherds must give the warning signals because the hirelings have fled. Let us lay down our lives for the sheep, for brigands have entered the fold and the roaring lion is rampaging about. Be ready for martyrdom! Satan himself is clothed as an angel of light."

"Impart to us the meaning of the words of Scripture and the light to understand it."

"For one to attempt to speak of God in terms more precise than He Himself has used: -- to undertake such a thing is to embark upon the boundless, to dare the incomprehensible. He fixed the names of His nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever is sought over and above this is beyond the meaning of words, beyond the limits of perception, beyond the embrace of understanding."

"Little children follow and obey their father. They love their mother. They know nothing of covetousness, ill-will, bad temper, arrogance and lying. This state of mind opens the road to heaven. To imitate our Lord's own humility, we must return to the simplicity of God's little ones."

~ Saint Hilary of Poitiers


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