St Hilarion – 21 October

St Hilarion was a hermit that spent most of his life in the desert, taking from the example of St Anthony the Great. St Hilarion is considered to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism.

He was born in 291AD in Tabatha, South of Gaza in Palestine to pagan parents. He studied in Alexandria, Egypt and it was there he was converted to Christianity. After his conversion he rejected all worldly pleasures of the day and spent all his time at church.

He heard of St Anthony and at only age 15, Hilarion went to live with him in the desert but returned after 2 months since the hermitage was preoccupied with healing visitors who were sick. Hilarion returned to find his parents had died. He gave his inheritance to his brothers and the poor. He left for the wilderness. He took a shirt of coarse linen, a cloak of skins given to him by St Anthony and a coarse blanket.

He led a nomadic life, fasting and only eating a prudent meal after sundown. He lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert where he also experienced many temptations and desolation.

He became well known in Palestine after 22 years of living in the wilderness, the sick came and asked him for help. This drove Hilarion to retreat to more remote locations, but people still trekked out to see him. He went to St Anthony’s retreat in Egypt, Sicily, Dalmatia and then to Cyprus where he died in 371.

Miracles that he is associated with are curing a barren woman in Palestine, he cured 3 children of a fatal illness, he healed a paralysed charioteer and expelled many demons.

St Hilarion by Basil II c.1000 Vatican Library

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