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 Saints of the Season Winter 2018
Saint Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) January 13
Saint Hilary was born in 315, a time when Christianity was still quite young. His birthplace was Poitiers, a city in the Roman province of Gaul, present-day France. When Hilary was three years old, the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, became a Christian and brought the persecution of Christians to an end. In fact, Constantine made Christianity the o icial religion of the Roman Empire. This did not mean, however, that every Roman had to become a Christian. Hilary’s family, like most Roman families, kept their pagan beliefs. They sent Hilary to schools where he studied the great pagan scholars of Rome and Greece.
Hilary loved to study and learn. Eventually, his thirst for knowledge led him to read all the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. By the time he had finished, he was convinced that Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God. He asked for and received Baptism.
Hilary was 35 years old when he was baptized. By this time, he was married and the father of a daughter named Abra. We don’t know if his wife was baptized, but it’s clear that his daughter was because she is also a saint. Abra was known for her selfless work among the poor Christians of Poitiers. Sadly, her life was cut short. She died when she was only 18. The feast of Saint Abra is December 12.
In the early days of the Church, bishops were usually chosen from among the priests and deacons in a diocese. But quite often, communities
also chose an outstanding layman to be their bishop. Hilary’s personal holiness, his great learning, and his leadership ability led the Christians
of Poitiers to elect him to be their bishop. This happened only three years after his Baptism.
Hilary served the faithful of his large diocese well, and he also took up the fight against Arianism, the false teaching that denied the divinity of Christ. He became the champion of this struggle in the western or European part of the Roman Empire. Constantius II, a son of Constantine the Great, favored the Arians and exiled Hilary to Phrygia in present-day Turkey. There Hilary made good use of his time by writing some of his most important works in defense of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.
After returning to Poitiers from exile, Hilary continued his mission to defeat Arianism. He died in 368, before he was able to enjoy his victory, which came at the Council of Constantinople in 381. This victory was shared with Saint Athanasius, who fought Arianism in the eastern part of the Romam Empire. The Church honors the important contributions of both men to the defeat of Arianism.
         A Service of
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