Hilary was born to pagan parents of Poitiers, France, in 315. After training in the classics and philosophy, Hilary married. He and his wife had one daughter, Afra. All who knew Hilary said he was a friendly, charitable, gentle man. Hilary’s studies led him to read Scripture. He became convinced that there was only one God, whose Son became man and died and rose to save all people. This led him to be baptized along with his wife and daughter.
The people of Poitiers chose Hilary to be their bishop in 353. He spoke out against Arianism, a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. When Emperor Constantius II wanted him to sign a paper condemning Saint Athanasius, the great defender of the faith, he refused. The emperor was furious and exiled Hilary to Phrygia. In exile, he preached, wrote, and suffered, and even asked to debate the Arian bishops. Fearing Hilary’s arguments, Arian’s followers begged the emperor to send Hilary home. The emperor, believing Hilary was also undermining his authority, recalled him. Hilary’s writings show that he could be fierce in defending the faith, but in dealing with the bishops who had given in to the Arian heresy, he was charitable. He showed them their errors and helped them to defend their faith. Though the emperor called Hilary “disturber of the peace,” Saints Jerome and Augustine praised him as “teacher of the churches.”
Saint Hilary had strong faith convictions and defended the faith fearlessly. Ask the students to read what Second Timothy teaches about the faith. (2 Timothy 1:6–14)
Discuss the good things the bishop of your diocese has done. Show his picture.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: The Ordination of Saing Hilary of Poitiers by Richard de Montbaston, 14th century. Public Domain via Wikimedia.