The Departure of the Righteous Father Abba Hilarion
On this day in the year 472 A.D. the righteous father, Saint Hilarion, the Anchorite, departed. He was a native of Gaza, the son of pagan parents. They taught him the Greek literature and culture. He excelled and surpassed his peers, but he wished still to master it. Since there was no one in his city who could help him to fulfill his desire, he went to the city of Alexandria and joined its school. There he acquired many kinds of knowledge.
The divine zeal moved him to learn also the Christian doctrines and books. He asked for the books of the church and read them, and Abba Alexandros explained to him what was difficult for him to understand. In a short time Abba Hilarion believed in the Lord Christ, to Whom is the Glory, and the father, the Patriarch, baptized him and he received the Divine Grace.
Abba Hilarion stayed with Abba Alexandros for a short time, then went to the great St. Anthony. When Abba Hilarion saw St. Anthony, he marvelled at his profound reverence and his fair appearance that was shining with the grace of the Holy Spirit. His heart was deeply moved and he desired to join the monastic life. He took off his worldly clothes and put on the monastic garb. He started practicing the monastic works with a diligent devotion, following the footsteps of his teacher.
Shortly after, he learned that his parents had died, so he went back to his city and took whatever they had left and gave it to the poor and needy. Then he joined one of the monasteries of Syria and followed the path of asceticism with great devotion. He fasted for the whole week, eating grass and legumes. God enlightened his mind, gave him the gift of prophecy, and of working signs.
Later on, St. Epiphanius became a monk in the same monastery, and the abbot handed him to St. Hilarion. St. Hilarion taught him the ways of the monastic life and the doctrines of the church and prophesied that St. Epiphanius would become the bishop of Cyprus.
The days of this father were 80 years: 10 years were spent in the house of his father, 7 years in the city of Alexandria and 63 years in worship. He pleased God and departed at a good old age. St. John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth) praised him in some of his articles and St. Basil mentioned him in some of his homilies.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
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