St Hilary of Poitiers; St Berno
by americancatholic.org | Source: americanactholic.org
St Hilary of Poitiers
defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the
greatest theology on the Trinity, and was like his Master in being labeled a “disturber of the
peace.” In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and
Raised a pagan, he was converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the
Scriptures. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of
Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth
century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.
The heresy spread rapidly. St. Jerome said “The world groaned
and marveled to find that it was Arian.” When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the
West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary
refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey). Eventually he was
called the “Athanasius of the West.” While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians
(hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But
Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop
who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to
send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people.
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