Feastday: 13 January Born: 315 AD Death: 367 AD Patron Saint of: lawyers, defense of the Church, courage, loyalty
The Unyielding Defender of the Divinity of Christ
St. Hilary of Poitiers was a 4th century bishop and theologian from what is now modern-day France. He is also known as “the Athanasius of the West” for his strong defense of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Hilary was born into a pagan family in the Roman province of Gaul (now France), but converted to Christianity in his youth. He received a strong education in Greek and Roman literature, as well as in the Bible and Christian theology.
In 350 AD, Hilary was elected Bishop of Poitiers, a position he held until his exile in 356 by the Roman Emperor Constantius II. Constantius II, who was an Arian Christian and was trying to impose Arianism as the state religion. Hilary opposed this attempt and was sent into exile to Phrygia in Asia Minor. During his exile Hilary wrote many books, including commentaries on scripture and works defending the doctrine of the Trinity.
After three years of exile, Hilary was allowed to return to Poitiers, where he resumed his Bishop role. He also continued to write and teach, and is said to have been an effective preacher. He died in Poitiers in the year 367, and is remembered for his strong defense of traditional Christian doctrine, particularly his defense of the Trinity against the Arian heresy, which he see as one of the most important and dangerous heresies of his time.
One of the famous story that was told by Hilary is that when he was on trial by the Arian bishops, they asked him, “Where is your proof that the Son is equal to the Father?” to which Hilary responded, “Where is your proof that he is not?”
After his death, Bishop Hilary was declared a Doctor of the Church which is a prestigious title reserved only for saints that have shown great faith in their deeds or works.
Quotes of St. Hilary of Poitiers
“There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from Him. He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all. Thus He embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all.”
“The privilege of our Church is such that it is never stronger than when it is attacked, never better known than when it is accused, never more powerful than when it appears forsaken.”
“The Church is the Ship outside which it is impossible to understand the Divine Word, for Jesus spoke from the boat to the people gathered on the shore.”
“No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.”
“When we are overcome by some evil will, should we not tremble before the presence of the choirs of angels that surround us?”
“In this we see the wondrous virtue of the Lord: that the power dwelling in His body should communicate to perishable things the efficacy to heal, and that the divine activity should issue forth even from the hem of His garment. For God is not perceptible by the senses, to be enclosed within a body. The assumption of a body did not limit the nature of His power; but for our redemption His power took upon it the frailty of our body.”
Titles of St. Hilary of Poitiers
- Hammer of the Arians (Malleus Arianorum)
- Athanasius of the West
Prayer for St. Hilary of Poitiers’ Intercession
"Dear St. Hilary of Poitiers, you stood courageously against the Arian heresy and defended the doctrine of the Trinity with unceasing faith. We ask for your intercession as we face our own struggles to defend what is right and true. Grant us the strength and conviction to speak out against injustice and to never compromise our beliefs. May we follow your example and always stand firm in the truth. Amen."