Saint Hilary: The Iconography

St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, Confessor and Doctor of the Church. He ascended to Heaven on the day before this one. – Roman Martyrology for January 14

St. Hilary was a fervent opponent of Arianism, which in his time enjoyed the support of the emperor and many influential bishops. As the image at right emphasizes, his opposition took the form not only of written treatises but of frequent travel to the many synods throughout the empire that were grappling with this issue in the 4th century. The Catholic viewpoint that he championed held that the Father and Son were "consubstantial" and co-eternal, a theological concept which the image seeks to represent in the scene in the upper half.

Portraits usually give St. Hilary episcopal vestments, a mitre and crozier, and a beard, usually white and often long.

In the Golden Legend Hilary's first miracle was to restore to life an infant who had not been baptized. This event is pictured in the manuscript illumination at right.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University


St. Hilary (See the description page.)

Raising the infant to life (See the description page.)


  • Mitre and cope or chasuble
  • White beard


  • Feast day: Originally January 13, now January 14
  • Died in 368