Meet an Intellectual Saint: Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers was raised up by the Lord to provide his sheep and his flock with pure and clear waters. From time to time, God, without forgetting his people, purifies his doctrine through intellectuals who are, above all, saints.   

Newsroom (14/01/2022 08:13 AM, Gaudium Press) St. Hilary was born a pagan, from a wealthy family, and deepened his studies in philosophy. But before the Holy Scriptures, he found treasures of truth that touched him deep in his soul.

Thus, at the age of 30, St. Hilary requests baptism for himself, his wife, and daughter, who enter with him into the holy fold. Of this wife, we know that after being ordained bishop, Hilary entered a convent, and of his daughter, the records tell that the Saint of Poitiers himself officiated at the wedding, years after his ordination.

A beautiful example of family holiness.

But the saint was not defined by his work only as a prelate. He stood out as an illustrious writer and fighter against Arianism.

To understand the scope of St. Hilary’s actions, let’s recall what was the Arian heresy.

The Church of God in the fourth century, in the mid-350s, was under intense doctrinal pressure. This was because the emperors Auxentius and Constantius, the highest civil authorities, were openly in favor of Arius.

Arianism denied the divinity of Christ. To them, Jesus was a very blessed man, but he was not of the same nature as God the Father, that is, he was not divine. This idea is horrible, for it renders all of Christ’s work useless. If Jesus is not one with God, his death on the Cross is meaningless, for it does not achieve forgiveness.

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But the followers of Arianism were subtle, mean. They did not speak openly about these things, and their words were misleading.

This is why the saint, who had excellent studies and deep discernment, opposed them. The Bishop of Poitiers explained the true doctrine to the simple, uneducated people.

The schemers, discovered by the saint’s logic, were furious. Even other bishops, liars, and those who lived depraved lives asked for the saint’s exile because they felt charged to see the sanctity and integrity of St. Hilary.

St. Hilary Becomes a Beacon in the East

Thus begins in the East the life of the saint who leaves Poitiers, a town in France. However, instead of submitting to shameful anonymity, as his enemies desired, Saint Hilary is filled with courage and delves even deeper into the Word of God.

He completed two works he had started in Poitiers and attacked the Roman emperor of the East; showing his error and his perversity. He thus became the new preacher who defended the unity of Christ with God, Father and Son, one nature, and also earned the enmity of the other bishops who lazily “allowed” Arianism in their dioceses.

The Saint of Poitiers returns home

Saint Hilary is “exiled” from his exile, that is, they force him to return to Poitiers. He returns triumphant, happy to have annoyed so much the enemies of the Church. But his actions don’t stop there: he gets into a disagreement with an Italian bishop, also an Arian, who in the end is overthrown by the Christian people, dissatisfied to see a heretic as their pastor.

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But the discord made him again be looked upon with a bad eye, and he was imprisoned in Poitiers: he could not leave the city. There St. Hilary became a beacon of holiness, being consulted constantly and composing even more works.

In 367, a little over 50 years old, the saint of Poitiers died, and the faithful began approachng his tomb with respect and affection.

May the light that Saint Hilary presented guide our steps toward holiness and integrity of life.

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