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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Hilary was born of a most illustrious family in Aquataine, and of him blessed Jerome saith : He was a man of mighty eloquence, the Latin Trumpet against the Arians. He was born of pagan parents , and brought up in idolatry, but in due time was found of Christ and became God’s servant. In early life he had married, but at his ordination he and his wife chose to live in continence. And because of the fame he made for himself by his wisdom and eloquence as a priest, he was chosen to be Bishop of Poitiers, in which office he gained the universal praise of the faithful. At that time the Emperor Constantius was persecuting the Catholics by every species of cruelty, in order to make them yield to the Arian heresy. Against the Arians Hilary set himself up as a brazen wall, and thereby turned upon himself the fierceness of their anger. When they procured his banishment to Phrygia, he used his exile to write a work in twelve books, on the Trinity, against these hereticks. * In the year 359, the fourth of his exile, he was obliged to attend the Council of Selucia in Isauria, which was largely composed of Arians, whom he there publicly withstood. And afterwards he withdrew to Constantinople, where he demanded leave from the Emperor to hold a public disputation in his presence. However, the Arian Bishops Ursacius and Valens, whom Hilary had already confuted in writing, were afraid to meet him in debate, and therefore induced Constantius, under pretence of pardon, to send him back to his bishoprick. And he was followed to Poitiers by Martin, afterwards Bishop of Tours, whose growth in holiness was a fruit of his teaching. * Henceforth he ruled the Church of Poitiers in great peace. His wonderful learning is seen in his numerous written works. And his tenderness of heart is well manifested in a letter, still extant, which during his exile he wrote to his daughter, urging upon her to become a nun, which same by this letter she was moved to do. He passed from earth to heaven upon January 13th, about the 368, during the reign of the Emperors Valentian and Valens. He has been called an Illustrious Doctor of the Church by many Fathers and Councils.

The Collect:
O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church with the wondrous learning of blessed Hilary thy Confessor and Doctor: mercifully grant to us thy servants; that we, being in all things enlightened by his wisdom, may at all times feel the effectual succour of his righteousness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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