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The Saint for all believers

Date: 2012-01-13

Hilary

Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300 – c. 368[1])

Honored in

Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
Oriental Orthodoxy

Canonized         Pre-Congregation

was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" (Latin: Malleus Arianorum) and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13 January.

Early life

Hilary was born at Poitiers about the end of the 3rd century A.D. His parents were pagans of distinction. He received a good education, including what had even then become somewhat rare in the West, some knowledge of Greek. He studied, later on, the Old and New Testament writings, with the result that he abandoned his Neo-Platonism for Christianity, and with his wife and his daughter (traditionally named Saint Abra) were baptized and received into the Catholic Church .

So great was the respect in which he was held by the citizens of Poitiers that about 353, although still a married man, he was unanimously elected bishop. At that time Arianism was threatening to overrun the Western Church; to repel the disruption was the great task which Hilary undertook. One of his first steps was to secure the excommunication, by those of the Gallican hierarchy who still remained orthodox, of Saturninus, the Arian Bishop of Arles, and of Ursacius and Valens, two of his prominent supporters.

Hilary is sometimes regarded as the first Latin Christian hymn writer, but none of the compositions assigned to him is indisputable.

While he thus closely followed the two great Alexandrians, Origen and Athanasius, in exegesis and Christology respectively, his work shows many traces of vigorous independent thought.

Among 4th-century Latin writers earlier than Ambrose, Hilary holds first place. Augustine of Hippo called him "the illustrious doctor of the churches", and his works continued to be highly influential in later centuries. Pope Pius IX formally recognized him as Universae Ecclesiae Doctor in 1851.

Hilary knew he was a child of a loving God who had inherited eternal life through belief in the Son of God. He hadn't been raised as a Christian but he had felt a wonder at the gift of life and a desire to find out the meaning of that gift. He first discarded the approach of many people who around him, who believed the purpose of life was only to satisfy desires. He knew he wasn't a beast grazing in a pasture. The philosophers agreed with him. Human beings should rise above desires and live a life of virtue, they said. But Hilary could see in his own heart that humans were meant for even more than living a good life.

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=55

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