Saint Hilary of Poitiers

January 14

D. 368

Born at Poitiers, Gaul, of a noble family, he was converted from paganism to Christianity by his study of the Bible and was Baptized when well on in years. He had been married before his conversion, and his wife was still alive when, despite his objections, he was elected bishop of Poitiers about 350. Almost at once he became involved in the Arian controversy. He refused to attend a synod at Milan called by Emperor Constantius in 355, at which the bishops present were required to sign a condemnation of St. Athanasius, and was condemned for his orthodoxy by the synod of Beziers in 356, presided over by Arian Bishop Satuminus of Arles and composed mainly of Arian bishops. Later in the year he was exiled by the Emperor to Phrygia. He was so successful in refuting Arianism at a council of Eastern bishops at Seleucia in 359 and in encouraging the clergy to resist the heresy that the Arians requested the Emperor to send him back to Gaul. The Emperor ended his banishment and ordered him back to Gaul in 360. A synod he was instrumental in convoking, deposed and excommunicated Satuminus; in 361, the death of Constantius ended the Arian persecution of the Catholics. In 364, Hilary held a public dispute at Milan with Auxentius, the Arian usurper of that see, and was ordered from Milan by Auxentius' protector, Emperor Valentinian. Hilary died at Poitiers, probably on November 1. Hilary was one of the leading and most respected theologians of his times. He wrote numerous treatises, notable among which were his De Trinitate [written while he was in exile against the Arians], De synodis, and Opus historicum. He was derlared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1851.



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