A married bishop

St Hilary (c 315-368) has been called the “Athanasius of the West” on account of his fierce denunciations of the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Born into a rich pagan family in Poitiers, Hilary won a reputation as an orator, and had married and fathered a daughter before, aged about 35, he was converted to Christianity. Such was his reputation, and the fervour with which he held his new faith, that within three years he had been elected bishop of Poitiers – even though his wife was still living.

Exiled to Turkey

So rigorously did he defend orthodoxy that he was exiled to Phrygia (western Turkey) by the Arian emperor Constantius II.

In exile, however, Hilary proved so pertinacious that the Arians had him sent back to Gaul. Yet as long as crucial theological issues were not at stake, he was a friendly and sympathetic companion.

Hilary wrote commentaries on St Matthew’s Gospel and the Psalms.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection