FEAST OF SAINT HILARION
FEAST DAY – 21st OCTOBER
Hilarion the Great (291–371) was an anchorite who spent most of his life in the desert according to the example of Anthony the Great (c. 251–356). While St Anthony is considered to have established Christian monasticism in the Egyptian desert, St Hilarion is considered by some to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism and venerated as a saint by the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
An Abbot and a disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. Hesychius, Hilarion was born in Tabatha, Palestine, and educated in Alexandria, Egypt. He stayed with St. Anthony in the desert before becoming a hermit at Majuma, near Gaza, Israel. In 356, Hilarion returned to St. Anthony in the Egyptian desert and found that his fame had spread there too.
He fled to Sicily to escape notice, but Hesychius traced him there. The two went to Dalmatia, Croatia, and then to Cyprus. Hilarion performed so many miracles that crowds flocked to him. He died on Cyprus, and St. Hesychius secretly took his remains back to Palestine. Despite his best efforts to live in prayer and solitude, Saint Hilarion found it difficult to achieve his deepest desire.
People were naturally drawn to Hilarion as a source of spiritual wisdom and peace. He had reached such fame by the time of his death that his body had to be secretly removed so that a shrine would not be built in his honor. Instead, he was buried in his home village.
Saint Hilarion the Great, as he is sometimes called, also experienced spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. He finally settled in Cyprus, where he died in 371 at about age 80. Much of his fame flows from the biography of him written by St. Jerome.
Lord God, we learn the value of solitude from Saint Hilarion. Unlike loneliness, solitude is a positive condition in which we are alone with you. He gave us the example of how to relinquish fame and live in humble solitude.
May the intercession of the Blessed Abbot Hilarion commend us to you, O Lord, so that through his merits we may obtain that which we cannot accomplish by our own. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Hilarion the Great, pray for us!