Saint Hilary, Bishop and Doctor
Agrecius of Trier B (RM)
(also known as Agritius of Trèves)
Died c. 333. Saint Agrecius preceded Saint Maximinus as bishop of Trèves (Trier in the Palatinate, Germany). He took part in the council of Arles in 314. An 11th century vita tells how Agrecius, with the help of Saint Helena of Constantinople procured the Holy Coat of Trier, which is said to be the seamless garment of Our Lord (Benedictines).
Andrew of Trèves B
Died 235. Some report Saint Andrew as the 12th bishop of Trier. He is sometimes listed as a martyr (Benedictines).
Berno of Cluny, OSB, Abbot (AC)
Born in Burgundy, France; died 927. Saint Berno was the first abbot of the renowned monastery of Cluny, and, thus, had enormous influence throughout western Christendom. Unfortunately, little is known of him. Some stories lead us to believe he was a man of noble birth and of financial means and that he was assisted by Duke William of Aquitaine in building Cluny, which he planned. He ruled the abbey from 910 until he resigned in favor of Saint Odo in 926.
He began his monastic life as a monk of Saint Martin's in Autun, then was the abbot who restored Baume-les-Messieurs, where he gave the habit to Saint Odo in 909. Next, Berno founder and became the abbot of Gigny, Bourg-Dieu, Massay, and finally Cluny in 910. Neither sacred nor secular history has done justice in recording the great work that Saint Berno did for the Church and civilization prior to his death in 927 (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Elian, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Eilan, Allan)
5th century. A Cornish or Breton saint of the family of Saint Ismael, Saint Elian has given his name to Llanelian in Anglesey and Llanelian in Denbigshire. He was the titular head of Saint Allen's Church in Cornwall. For some reason, his name is often confused with that of Saint Hilary (Benedictines).
Elian ap Erbin (AC)
5th century. This name appears in some Welsh calendars, but nothing is known of him (Benedictines).
Enogatus of Aleth B (AC)
Died 631. Bishop Enogatus was the fifth successor of Saint Malo in the see of Aleth, Brittany (Benedictines).
(also known as Ervan, Erbyn, Erme, Hermes)
5th century (?). Saint Erbin appears to have been related to one of the Cornish or Devonian chieftains. Churches were dedicated to him in Cornwall (Benedictines).
40 Soldiers Martyred at Rome (RM)
Died 262. Forty soldiers who suffered on the Via Lavicana under Gallienus (Benedictines).
Glaphyra V (RM)
Died c. 324. Saint Glaphyra, a female slave in the service of Emperor Licinius's wife Constantia, fled to Bishop Saint Basileus, in order to safeguard her chastity. She was recaptured and condemned to death, but died on the way to martyrdom (Benedictines).
Blessed Godfrey of Cappenberg, O. Praem. (AC)
Born at Cappenberg Castle, Westphalia, Germany, in 1097; died January 30, 1127. Blessed Godfrey was a count, who owned large estates. He made the acquaintance of Saint Norbert and, in the midst of violent opposition from his family, deeded his lands to the holy founder, turned his castle into a Praemonstratensian abbey, and himself joined the order with his brother, while his wife and two sisters took the veil in a convent which he founded for them. He died at the age of 30 before he could be ordained to the priesthood (Benedictines). In art, Blessed Godfrey is portrayed as a Praemonstratensian carrying bread in a bowl with two loaves at his feet. Sometimes he holds a skull or a church (Ilberstadt or Varlar) (Roeder).
Gumersindus & Servusdei MM (RM)
Died 850. Saint Gumersindus was a parish priest; Servusdei a monk. They were martyred at Cordova, Spain, under Abderrahman II (Benedictines).
Hermylus & Stratonicus MM (RM)
Died 315. Their dubious vita tells us that Saint Hermylus, a deacon of Singidunum (Belgrade), and Stratonicus, his servant, were drowned in the Danube under Licinius (Benedictines).
Hilary of Poitiers B, Dr. (RM)
Born in Poitiers, Aquitaine, France, 315; died there c. 368 (whether on November 1 or January 13 is now indiscernible); declared Doctor of the Divinity of Christ by Pope Pius IX in 1851; feast day formerly on January 14.
"Little children follow and obey their father. They love their mother. They know nothing of covetousness, ill- will, bad temper, arrogance and lying. This state of mind opens the road to heaven. To imitate our Lord's own humility, we must return to the simplicity of God's little one's." --Saint Hilary of Poitiers.
Saint Hilary has been praised by Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and quite generally by all the theologians and Church historians as one of the great pillars of the Church. Saint Augustine praises him as "the illustrious teacher of the churches." Saint Jerome says that Hilary was "a most eloquent man, and the trumpet of the Latins against the Arians." In another place he writes that God transplanted "two fair cedars"--SS. Cyprian and Hilary--"out of the world and into His Church."
For Saint Hilary, born of wealthy, noble parents, was raised as a pagan. He himself testifies that he was brought up on idolatry. He studied rhetoric and philosophy, became an orator, married early in life, and had a daughter.
In his own writings he describes how God led him in midlife (c. 350) to conversion. It involved a long process of discovering the absurdity of polytheism by reason and meeting the God of Moses through Biblical study. In the first chapter of John's Gospel, he learned that the Divine Word is coeternal and consubstantial with the Father. Hilary checked his natural curiosity, avoided intricacies, and submitted his understanding to divine revelation. Just as we must learn to do if we are to grow in faith, he resolved to leave what seemed incomprehensible to the veracity and power of God, and not measure divine mystery by the capacity of human understanding.
His study also led him to the conviction that man is in the world to practice moral virtue that must be rewarded in the hereafter. After his own conversion and baptism, Hilary led his wife and daughter, Saint Abra (Abram, Afra, or Apra), to God and separated himself from all un-Catholic company. At first he avoided all contact with Jews and heretics, but later came to realize that their conversion depended, in part, upon the compassion of Christians and relaxed his aversion.
His wife was still living when he was made bishop of Poitiers around 350-353 (age 35). He resisted the appointment, but his humility made the people even more insistent. He and his wife had to live separately thereafter in perpetual continence. Soon after his consecration, he wrote a commentary on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, which survives, and which, together with Hilary's commentaries on the Psalms, Saint Jerome commended for reading especially by virgins and the devout.
Almost at once he became involved in the Arian controversy, and from the first, he was an outspoken champion of orthodoxy. Emperor Constantius II had compelled the Eastern churches to embrace Arianism, then moved for a time to Arles. At the council of Arles in 353, which turned out badly, Hilary took the initiative to oppose the forms and motions that he himself had translated for Constantius. The emperor had called a synod in Milan in 355 that required all bishops to sign the condemnation of Saint Athanasius. Those who declined were banished, including SS. Eusebius of Vercelli and Dionysius of Milan. Hilary considered Athanasius to be right, and refused to attend.
In response to the action of the synod, Hilary wrote his First book to Constantius, begging him to restore peace to the Church. At the synod of Béziers (Bitterae) in 356, presided over by Arian Bishop Saturninus of Arles and composed mainly of Arian bishops, Hilary was condemned for his orthodoxy. Later that year, he was exiled by Constantius to Phrygia with Bishop Rhodanius, his friend from Toulouse.
During his banishment he did much of his writing, including his most important and celebrated work, De Trinitate, twelve books proving the consubstantiality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit meant to refute the Arians. In 358 he wrote On Synods or On the Faith of the Orientals to explain the terms and variations of the eastern Arians in their synods.
In 359, the emperor, again interfering in Church affairs, assembled a council of Arians at Seleucia in Isauria to neutralize the decrees of the Council of Nicaea. Saint Hilary, who had then been in Phrygia for three years, was invited by the semi-Arians to attend. They had hoped he would be useful to their party in crushing those who adhered strictly to the Arian doctrine. Hilary so boldly argued against all enemies of orthodox Christianity that the Phrygians were soon begging the emperor to send him back to Poitiers.
It seems that after defending Nicaea at Seleucia, Hilary withdrew to Constantinople and there presented to the emperor a request, called his Second book to Constantius, in which he begged the emperor's permission to hold a public disputation about religion with Saturninus, the author of his banishment. That is when the Arians, dreading such a trial, convinced Constantius to let Hilary go back to his see in 360.
In exile Saint Hilary perceived that his opponents used hymns to spread their false views. He decided that Christians should popularize their beliefs in the same way, and he became the first Latin hymn-writer of the Church. Most of his hymns have been lost, but three survive: one about Jesus's temptations in the wilderness; another about Easter; and a third, on the Trinity, seventy verses long.
He was one of the most prominent and esteemed theologians of his time. Although his writing could be stern and uncompromising, he was a gentle, calm, pious, polite, and friendly man. This face of Hilary can be seen in the still extant letter that his wrote during his exile to his 13-year-old daughter in which he acquaints her with the inestimable riches Christ wanted to bestow on her if she would forego all earthly things, including spouse, fine garments, and riches.
Most of Hilary's writing is difficult to read because his style is rather convoluted to the point of obscurity. Origen, who was condemned long after his death because of the twists some of his followers took, strongly influenced Hilary's writings. In addition to the previously mentioned commentaries on Saint Matthew's Gospel, Homilies on the Psalms, and De synodis, Hilary wrote Opus historicum and much on the Arian controversy. His writings are also useful for their historical insight.
Returning to Gaul, Hilary travelled through Illyricum and Italy, strengthening the morale of weaker Christians, and was received enthusiastically by the people of Poitiers. During his exile, no one replaced the saint as bishop of Poitiers. The priests preferred, instead, to pretend that he was still with them. His letters home during his exile showed that he was afraid, had little to eat, and was surrounded by enemies.
Upon his return to Poitiers, he had Arianism condemned by the Senate, set about reform, preaching and pastoral work with increased ardor. He convoked a synod in Gaul and condemned the synod of Rimini (359). Saturninus was excommunicated and deposed. Constantius died at Poitiers in 361, and the Arian persecution ended.
In 364, Hilary went to Milan to engage its usurping Arian Bishop Auxentius in a public dispute. His early training as an orator made him so successful that Auxentius's protector, Emperor Valentinian, ordered him to leave Milan. His greatest achievement was the re-establishment of order in the Church of his time.
All of Hilary's writings breathe a vein of extraordinary piety. He held it as the great work of his life to use all his faculties to evangelize and excite all men to the love of God. He earnestly recommended the practice of beginning and ending every action and discourse with prayer, to pray always and remember that all we do should praise and thank the Lord.
Hilary's relics have been moved several times. Some parts appear to be in Limousin; some burned by the Hugenots in Poitiers; but most of his remains are in the abbey of Saint Denys, near Paris. Venantius Fortunatus, a contemporary, related many of the miracles wrought by Saint Hilary during his lifetime; Saint Gregory of Tours and others recorded many that occurred at his tomb.
The spring term at the Law Courts in England and at Oxford University are named for him--the Hilary Term--as are three English churches (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Walsh, White).
He is portrayed in art holding an open book of the Gospel; or as a bishop with three books; or with a child (sometimes in a cradle at his feet, raised to life by him); or with a pen or stick (White). Roeder says that he is identified at a desk with books and a child in its cradle at his feet (so he is sometimes confused with Saint Ambrose). Sometimes he is shown with Saint Martin of Tours (because he was his friend and spiritual director); or with a snake and dragon (Roeder).
In a picture by the Master of Liesborn in the National Gallery of England is a Saint Hilary in armor, with SS Ambrose and Jerome. In view of the two doctors in whose company he is, it seems likely that this should represent the great Hilary of Poitiers, friend and teacher of Saint Martin of Tours, who began his career as a Roman officer. Saint Hilary, though a patrician by birth, is usually represented as a bishop and scholar rather than a knight (Roeder).
He is the patron of retarded children and invoked against snakes (Roeder).
Blessed Hildemar of Arrouaise, OSA M (AC)
Born in Germany; died in the Artois, France, in 1097 or 1098. Blessed Hildemar was a hermit at Arrouaise in Artois. He was joined by many disciples for whom he founded the monastery of Arrouaise under the Augustinian Rule of the canons regular. He was killed by a cleric, who posed as a novice (Benedictines).
Blessed Ida of Argensolles, OSB Cist., Abbess (AC)
Died 1226. A Black Benedictine nun of Saint Leonard's in Liège, Blessed Ida was elected abbess of the Cistercian convent of Argensolles in the diocese of Soissons (Benedictines).
Blessed Ivetta of Huy, Widow (AC)
(also known as Jutta)
Died 1228. Blessed Ivetta was a Dutch mystic, who was widowed at age 18 with three children. Consecrating her widowhood to God, she nursed lepers in a lazaretto for ten years before she took to the solitary life, in which she spent more than forty years. She is famous for her gifts of the discernment of spirits and counsel (Benedictines, Gill). Blessed Ivetta is portrayed in art in widow's weeds or religious habit with a red-hot tripod. Sometimes she may be shown kneeling in ecstasy in a hut or tending lepers. She is venerated in the Netherlands (Roeder).
Leontius of Caesarea B (RM)
Died 337. As bishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia, Saint Leontius was one of the fathers of the Council of Nicaea in 325. He is especially praised by Saint Athanasius and is described by the Greeks as "an angel of peace" (Benedictines).
Potitus M (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Potitus is honored as a boy-martyr in the diocese of Naples, Italy; however, his extant acta are legendary (Benedictines).
Blessed Stephen of Liège, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1061. A canon of Saint Denis, Liège, who became a Benedictine monk at Saint Vannes, Verdun. Later he returned to Li& yegrave;ge as abbot-founder of Saint Laurence (Benedictines).
Veronica of Binasco, OSA V (RM)
Born in Binasco (near Milan), Italy, c. 1445; died in Milan in 1497; cultus confirmed in 1517. Veronica was the daughter of poor peasants, with whom she worked in the fields. Hands occupied, united with nature, she raised her heart to God as she labored at reaping and hoeing.
Anxious because her illiteracy might prevent her from growing in holiness, she unsuccessfully tried to teach herself to read while the rest of her family slept. Veronica began to experience constant ecstasies and successive visions of the life of Christ. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and taught her that all she needed were three mystical letters. The first signified purity of intention; the second, abhorrence of complaining and criticism; the third, daily meditation upon the Passion.
Having learned her lesson well from the Virgin, each day she would arise and dedicate the work of her hands to God. In concentrating upon perfecting her own offering, she had no time for judging others. She did, however, pray for those who manifestly erred. By meditating on the Passion, she forgot her own pains and sorrows in those of Our Lord and her frequent, silent tears in remembering His sufferings.
After three years of patient waiting, she was received as a lay- sister by the Augustinian nuns of Saint Martha's in Milan and spent her life in collecting alms for the convent. Three years later she was afflicted with secret but bodily pains, yet never would consent to being relieved of her labors or to omit her prayers. She said, "I must work while I can, while I have time." She perfected the virtue of joyful obedience. She died on the day she had foretold, after a six-month illness, aged 52 (Benedictines).
Viventius, Hermit (RM)
Died c. 400. Saint Viventius was a Samaritan who, after becoming a priest, travelled to the West and attached himself to Saint Hilary of Poitiers (above). He ended his life as a hermit (Benedictines).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.