Feast Day : November 17
Also known as: Hilary
A native of Sardinia, Hilarus became archdeacon of the Church of Rome under Pope St. Leo I (r. 440–461), who in 449 sent him as representative to the so-called Robber Council of Ephesus. The Robber Council considered statements made by Eutyches to the effect that Jesus was possessed of but a single nature, his human nature being subsumed by his divine nature. The orthodox view of the Church was that Jesus possessed a dual nature; the outcome of the Robber Council, however, favored Eutyches. It was followed with much violence, and Hilarus escaped with his life only by hiding out in a crypt dedicated to St. John the Apostle. Hilarus succeeded Leo as bishop of Rome on November 19, 461. His pontificate was typical for his era, being concerned with fighting heresies, upholding Church discipline, and otherwise conducting Rome’s leadership role in the universal church. In 465, he convened a synod to condemn the practice of bishops naming their own successors. When in 476 a favorite of Emperor Anthemius embraced the Macedonian heresy, Hilarus exhorted the emperor from the grave of St. Peter to come out against the false views. Hilarus erected several churches and other ecclesiastical buildings in Rome, and added two oratories— one to St. John the Apostle and one to the Lateran baptistry. The following inscription can still be seen above the baptistry doors: “To St. John the Evangelist, the liberator of Bishop Hilarus, a Servant of Christ.” Hilarus died on February 28, 468, and was buried in the Church of St. Laurence-Outside-the-Walls, one of the churches he had built.