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Click the music picture above for a partial list of hymns attributed to Saint Hilary of Poitiers!
Saints Hilary and Knut

Happy Saint Hilary Day! When I was assigned at Saint Hilary Parish, many times visitors would ask me about the saint as they were leaving Mass. I would start by telling them that Saint Hilary was a bishop. Then they would interrupt me and say, “He’s a male?” I always found that humorous.

Speaking of funny, in some of the Catholic Churches in the Scandinavian countries, they are remembering Saint Knut. He is also called Canute. Saint Knut was a king of Denmark during the 11th Century. Saint Knut was martyred. As king, he built churches all throughout his kingdom with money from the royal treasury. He even donated his own crown to one of them. He met some resistance and he was murdered in one of the churches he had built. Also, he shortened the Christmas Season. Back in Saint Knut’s time the Christmas Season lasted 40 days, so he cut it in half. He felt 40 days was too long to be lazy. I guess back then, no one did anything during the Christmas Season.

Now back to Saint Hilary. He was born in the city of Poitiers, which is in France, in 315. He grew up in a wealthy pagan home. As a young man he could not believe in a whole collection of gods, and believed that there must be only one God. This conviction led to Saint Hilary discovering the scriptures and becoming Christian. At the age of 35 he was elected bishop. Saint Hilary was a very wise and humble bishop. Sadly, Saint Hilary was exiled, and it was noted that during the hardship he remained cheerful. He also wrote a book on the Trinity. Plus, he also wrote some hymns. Eventually he returned to Poitiers, and many turned out to welcome him with a lot of love and cheers. With that, Saint Hilary was able to spend the rest of life quietly serving the people and writing. Because he was such a wise teacher, he was given the title “Doctor of the Divinity of Christ.” It has been noted by Church historians that Saint Hilary was an innovator as a hymn composer. He felt that writing hymns that contained sound doctrine would be a clever way to teach and reinforce the faith. By many historians he is regarded as the "Father of Western Hymn-Singing." So, his hymns became one of the tools to combat heresy. Because Saint Hilary did a great job of teaching the faith and correcting false teaching, he also earned the title "Hammer of the Arians." It makes me wonder if MC Hammer chose the name “Hammer” in honor of Saint Hilary. God bless and stay safe!

In Christ,

Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene