Hilary of Poitiers

Feast Day: January 13
Canonized: Pre-Congregation


How does a pagan man eventually become one of the most important Christians of his time? The story of St. Hilary helps us to see that God can and does work through each one of us.

Hilary was born in Poitiers, France, sometime around the year 300. His parents were very wealthy and made sure he received a good education. Hilary was raised as a pagan. Pagans worshipped many gods. That did not make sense to Hilary. He thought that there could only be one true God. To learn more, Hilary read the Scriptures. Meeting Jesus in the Gospels and learning what Jesus taught about God the Father changed Hilary’s heart. He was baptized and became a Christian.

Hilary was married and had a daughter so it was surprising when he was chosen to be the Bishop of Poitiers. But in those days bishops were chosen by local priests and approved by the people. Hilary was respected for his intelligence and his modesty. People thought that he would make a good leader.

At that time, a priest named Arius was preaching that Jesus was not truly God. This was a heresy, or false teaching, but many people, including the emperor, began to believe in Arius’ preaching. Hilary opposed Arius’ ideas and spoke out against him. He wanted everyone to know that it is through Jesus, God’s only Son, that we are saved. The emperor punished Hilary by sending him away to a part of ancient Greece that is today known as Turkey.

Hilary made good use of his four years in exile. He wrote important books and sermons about the Blessed Trinity and he composed hymns that expressed the beliefs of our faith. When he was finally permitted to return to Poitiers, the people gathered in the town square to cheer him. He spent the rest of his life writing and preaching. He died around 368 and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1851.

Today he is invoked as the patron saint against snakebites.

Connecting With Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 2, Unit 3

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