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Saint of the Day - Pope Saint Hilary (February 28)

Pope Saint Hilary reigned as Holy Roman Pontiff from 461-468. He succeeded Pope Saint Leo I (the Great). He was succeeded by Pope Simplicius. As was the custom with many of the early popes, Pope Saint Hilary used his birth name, Hilarius, as pope.

Image retrieved from and used as being in the public domain.

Pope Saint Hilary was born in Sardinia in modern-day Italy. At the time, it was part of the Roman Empire that would become the Papal States.

Pope Saint Hilary was Archdeacon under Pope Saint Leo I, also known as Pope Saint Leo the Great. Pope Saint Hilary, as Archdeacon, fought for the rights of the Roman See.

Hilarius was sent as a papal legate, along with Bishop Julius of Puteoli, to the Second Council of Ephesus (the "Robber" council). Pope Saint Leo had sent a letter to be read at the council. The head notary of the council decided that the emporer's letter should be first read. At the end of the day, the pope's letter was not even read. Hilarius opposed the condemnation of Flavian of Constantinople, uttering a single Latin word, "Contradicitur", which defeated the condemnation in the name of the pope. This greatly angered Dioscorus, who was the "Pope" of Alexandria, who supported the condemnation and who presided over the synod. Flavian would be attacked by followers of Dioscorus and would die on August 11, 449 of those injuries.

A letter from Hilarius apologized to Empress Pulcheria for not delivering the letter of the pope to her after the council. However, Hilarius had a difficult time getting to either Constantinople or to Rome on account of the exits from the city being blocked by forces loyal to Dioscorus making his escape difficult at best. Flavian and Eusebius of Dorylaeum appealed to the pope. It is likely that their letters were delivered to the pope by Hilarius.

Pope Saint Hilary continued with the policies of Pope Saint Leo I. Pope Saint Hilary worked hard to overcome the ruling of tolerance of schismatic sects within there Church.

There was an archdeacon named Hermes who had seized the bishopric of Narbonne against the rulings of Church law. There were other matters in Gaul (modern-day France) which caused quite a bit of consternation within the Church. Two Gallican prelates were sent to the pope to make these matters known. These matters were ruled upon by a synod and Hilarius wrote an encyclical regarding them.

In 463, Mamertus of Vienne had consecrated a bishop of Die despite the fact that this city belonged to another mettropolitan diocese, that of Arles. When he heard about this, Pope Saint Hilarius dispatched Leontius of Arles to convene a synod to look into this matter. Based on the report of Bishop Antonius, Pope Saint Hilarius issued a written edict on February 25, 464 directing Bishop Veranus to advise Mamertus that the faculties of his bishopric would be withdrawn if he continued with this course of conduct.

Pope Saint Hilarius also had to deal with issues in Hispanic (Spain). Pope Saint Hilarius was forced to look into episcopal ordination of Bishop Silvanus of Calahorra. The pope was asked for his decision on the issue. However, before an answer could be had to their petition, these very same bishops had reason to contact the Vatican for issues completely unrelated to the issue at hand. Bishop Nundinarius of Barcelona had, before he died, expressed a wish that Irenaeus might succeed him in his bishopric. However, he had already made Irenaeus bishop of another See. This request was granted and confirmed by the Synod of Tarragona. Henceforth, bishops sought Papal authority before doing such things.

During his , Hilarius also entered into a number of construction projects, including the building of the Chapel of Holy , convents, two pubic and a . Liber Pontificalis, which provides most of what we know about Pope Saint Hilarius, gives him great praise for these projects. He also built two oratories in the baptistry of St. John the Lateran Basilica; one in honor of St. John the Baptist and the other in honor of St. John the apostle and evangelist.

Hilarius died ion February 29, 468. He was buried in the Basilica of St. Lawrence outside the Walls.


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