Saint Hilary of Arles, also known by his Latin name Hilarius (c.
403-449), was a bishop of Arles in Southern France. He is recognized
as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches,
with his feast day celebrated on 5 May.
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In his early youth, or the 420s, Hilary joined the abbey of Lérins
which was, at the time, presided over by his kinsman Honoratus (Saint
Honoré). Hilary seems to have been living in
Dijon before this,
although other authorities believe he came from Belgica, or Provence.
Hilary may have been a relative or "even the son" of the Hilarius who
had been prefect of
Gaul in 396 and of Rome in 408.
Hilary succeeded his kinsman Honoratus as bishop of Arles in 429.
Following the example of St Augustine, he is said to have organized
his cathedral clergy into a "congregation," devoting a great part of
their time to social exercises of asceticism. He held the rank of
metropolitan bishop of
Vienne and Narbonne, and attempted to exercise
the sort of primacy over the church of south Gaul, which seemed
implied in the vicariate granted to his predecessor Patroclus of Arles
Hilary deposed the bishop of Besançon, Chelidonus, for ignoring this
primacy, and for claiming a metropolitan dignity for Besançon. An
appeal was made to Rome, and
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I used it, in 444, to extinguish
the Gallican vicariate headed by Hilary, thus depriving him of his
rights to consecrate bishops, call synods, or oversee the church in
the province. The pope also secured the edict of Valentinian III, so
important in the history of the Gallican church, which freed the
Vienne from all dependence on that of Arles. These papal
claims were made imperial law, and violation of them were subject to
legal penalties. Léon Clugnet suggests that the dispute arose
from the fact that the respective rights of the Court of Rome and of
the metropolitan were not sufficiently clearly established at that
time, and that the right of appeal to the pope was not explicitly
Following his death in 449, Hilary's name was introduced into the
During his lifetime Hilary had a great reputation for learning and
eloquence as well as for piety; his extant works (Vita S. Honorati
Arelatensis episcopi and Metrum in Genesin) compare favourably with
any similar literary productions of that period.
A poem, De providentia, usually included among the writings of Prosper
of Aquitaine, is sometimes attributed to Hilary of Arles.
^ (in Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἱλάριος Ἐπίσκοπος
Ἀρελάτης. 5 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
^ Matthisen, Ecclesiastical Factionalism and Religious Controversy in
Gaul (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1989),
^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
^ Novellae Valentinii iii. tit. 16
^ Clugnet, Léon. "St. Hilary of Arles." The Catholic Encyclopedia
Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 October 2017
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hilarius, St
(Arles)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge
Clugnet, Léon (1910). "St. Hilary of Arles". In Herbermann,
Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 7. New York: Robert Appleton
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