January 13: St. Hillary of Poitiers
In the early centuries of Christianity, there were still many people who did not believe in God as we do. They believed that there were many gods, some more powerful than others. These people were not bad. They just did not know any better. They were called pagans.
In the year 315, Hilary was born into just such a family in Poitiers, a town in France. His family was rich and well-known. Hilary received a good education. He married and raised a family.
Through his studies, Hilary learned that a person should practice patience, kindness, justice and as many good habits as possible. These good acts would be rewarded in the life after death. Hilary's studies also convinced him that there could only be one God who is eternal, all-powerful and good. He read the Bible for the first time. When he came to the story of Moses and the burning bush, Hilary was very impressed by the name God gave himself: I AM WHO AM. Hilary read the writings of the prophets, too. Then he read the whole New Testament. By the time he finished, he was completely converted to Christianity and was baptized.
Hilary lived the faith so well that he was appointed a bishop. This did not make his life easy because the emperor was interfering in Church matters. When Hilary opposed him, the emperor exiled him. And here is where Hilary's great virtues of patience and courage shone. He accepted exile calmly and used the time to write books explaining the faith.
Since he was becoming famous, Hilary's enemies asked the emperor to send him back to his hometown. There he would be less noticeable. So Hilary returned to Poitiers in 360. He continued writing and teaching the people about the faith. Hilary died eight years later, at the age of fifty-two. His books have influenced the Church right to our own day. That is why he is called a Doctor of the Church.
"Impart to us the meaning of the words of Scripture and the light to understand it."—St. Hilary