Hilary of Poitiers

c.315-368. Bishop of Poitiers. Born of good family, he was educated in the Latin classics, converted about 350 to Christianity, and some three years later was made by popular choice bishop of Poitiers, his birthplace. He became a leader of the orthodox in Gaul, although he confessed that he only discovered the creed of the Council of Nicea on the eve of his exile, but had held the teaching it contained on the basis of his study of the Bible. After the Council of Milan in 355 he led the protest against the banishment of those bishops who refused to condemn Athanasius and against the intervention of the civil power in questions of faith. As a result of this he was himself condemned by the council at Beziers in 356, and banished by Emperor Constantius to Phrygia. In this enforced leisure he was able to pursue his study of theology, and his De Trinitate belongs to this period. In 359 the councils of Arminum in the West and Seleucia in the East were held. Hilary was obliged to attend that of Seleucia, at which he defended the cause of orthodoxy. From there he went to Constantinople, only to find the delegates from the Western council betraying the orthodoxy which he had upheld. He appealed to the emperor for an audience, but was refused. Constantius sent him back to Gaul without annulling his banishment. The emperor's attitude provoked a bitter attack by Hilary in his Contra Constantium. Meanwhile, the emperor had forced the orthodox bishops at Arminum to subscribe to an Arian creed. On his return to Gaul, Hilary set about counteracting this Arian victory. In 362 he traveled to N Italy and Illyria for the same purpose, but was ordered back to Gaul by Valentinian after a dispute between Hilary and Auxentius, bishop of Milan.