HILARY, BISHOP AND DOCTOR
Summarized from wikipedia.com (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilary_of_Poitiers)
Saint 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 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 as Saint Abra) received the sacrament of baptism.
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 (clerical celibacy was not required by the church until the late Middle Ages). 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.
About the same time, he wrote to Emperor Constantius II a remonstrance against the persecutions by which the Arians had sought to crush their opponents. His efforts were not at first successful, for at the synod of Biterrae (Béziers), summoned in 356 by Constantius with the professed purpose of settling the longstanding disputes, Hilary was, by an imperial rescript, banished to Phrygia, where he spent nearly four years in exile.
He continued to govern his diocese; while he found leisure for the preparation of two of the most important of his contributions to dogmatic and polemical theology: the De synodis or De fide Orientalium, an epistle addressed in 358 to the Semi-Arian bishops in Gaul, Germany and Britain, expounding the true views (sometimes veiled in ambiguous words) of the Eastern bishops on the Nicene controversy; and the De trinitate libri XII, composed in 359 and 360, in which, for the first time, a successful attempt was made to express in Latin the theological subtleties elaborated in the original Greek. The former of these works was not entirely approved by some members of his own party, who thought he had shown too great a forbearance towards the Arians; he replied to their criticisms in the Apologetica ad reprehensores libri de synodis responsa.
He was occupied for two or three years in combating Arianism within his diocese; but in 364, extending his efforts once more beyond Gaul, he impeached Auxentius, bishop of Milan, and a man high in the imperial favour, as heterodox. Summoned to appear before Emperor Valentinian I at Milan and there maintain his charges, Hilary had the mortification of hearing the supposed heretic give satisfactory answers to all the questions proposed; nor did his denunciation of the metropolitan as a hypocrite save himself from an ignominious expulsion from Milan.
In 365 he published the Contra Arianos vel Auxentium Mediolanensem liber, in connection with the controversy; and also (but perhaps at a somewhat earlier date) the Contra Constantium Augustum liber, in which he pronounced that lately-deceased emperor to have been the Antichrist, a rebel against God, “a tyrant whose sole object had been to make a gift to the devil of that world for which Christ had suffered.”
Hilary is sometimes regarded as the first Latin Christian hymnwriter, but none of the compositions assigned to him is indisputable.
The later years of his life were spent in comparative quiet, devoted in part to the preparation of his expositions of the Psalms (Tractatus super Psalmos), for which he was largely indebted to Origen; of his Commentarius in Evangelium Matthaei, an allegorical exegesis of the first Gospel; and of his no longer extant translation of Origen’s commentary on Job.
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.
Towards the end of his episcopate and with his encouragement by Martin, the future bishop of Tours, founded a monastery at Ligugé in his diocese.
He died in 368; no more exact date is trustworthy.
The English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) ©1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission by Surgeworks, Inc for the Divine Office Catholic Ministry. DivineOffice.org website, podcast, apps and all related media is © 2006-2011 Surgeworks, Inc. All rights reserved. (0)
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