FRIDAY, JANUARY 13: A Christian convert who would go on to become one of its greatest defenders is spotlighted today, on the Feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers. Born a Pagan and given an exemplary education, Hilary was an adult before he proclaimed finding his God in the Christian Scriptures. When Arianism—a heresy that questioned Christ’s role as part of the divine trinity—became a threat to the church, it was Hilary who is credited with combatting the movement. (Learn more at AmericanCatholic.org.)
Hilary lived during the 4th century in Poitiers, France; in adulthood, he was chosen to be a bishop, despite his married status. Hilary’s passion for the Church couldn’t be oppressed, and when Arianism gained popularity among emperors and Hilary opposed them, he was exiled. For four years, Hilary continued his defense of the Church—while in exile—through the writing of 12 books on the Trinity. (Wikipedia has details.) At long last, he was permitted to return to France, where he continued to preach of the “true Church.” St. Hilary of Poitiers gained great respect as a scholar, and is known today as a Doctor of the Church. The Church of Sant’Ilario, in Italy, was dedicated to this Doctor just 12 years after his death.
In England, popular lore deems St. Hilary’s Day more than just a time to honor this defender of the Church. With a few record-breaking frosts arriving on St. Hilary’s Day throughout history, this is playfully called the coldest day of the year. That’s not the case this year, of course, with a mild, dry winter upon us. Meteorologists point out that the worst of winter is yet to come—as winter continues to unfold in the Northern Hemisphere.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.