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E00713: Jerome, in his Life of Hilarion, presents *Hilarion (anchorite in Palestine and Cyprus, ob. 371, S00099) as a monastic leader and miracle-worker junior but equal to *Antony ('the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356, S00098). Written in Latin in Bethlehem (Palestine) in the early 390s.

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posted on 2015-09-14, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Jerome, Life of Hilarion 14 and 24

Chapter 14
A noble woman named Aristenete visits both Antony in Egypt and Hilarion in Palestine and asks the latter to heal her children, who suddenly fallen ill, in the following words:

"Hilarion, serue Christi, redde mihi liberos meos. Quos Antonius tenuit in Aegypto, a te seruentur in Syria".

'"Hilarion, servant of Christ, give me back my children: Antony kept them safe in Egypt, do you save them in Syria".'

There follows a description of the healing. The passage concludes:

Quod postquam auditum est et longe late que percrebuit, certatim ad eum de Syria et Aegypto populi confluebant, ita ut multi crederent in Christum et se monachos profiterentur. Necdum enim tunc monasteria erant in Palaestina nec quisquam monachum ante sanctum Hilarionem in Syria nouerat. Ille fundator et eruditor huius conuersationis et studii in hac prouincia primum fuit. Habebat dominus Iesus in Aegypto senem Antonium, habebat in Palaestina Hilarionem iuniorem.

'When the matter was noised abroad, and the fame of it spread far and wide, the people flocked to him from Syria and Egypt, so that many believed in Christ and professed themselves monks. For as yet there were no monasteries in Palestine, nor had anyone known a monk in Syria before the saint Hilarion. It was he who originated this mode of life and devotion, and who first trained men to it in that province. The Lord Jesus had in Egypt the aged Antony: in Palestine He had the younger Hilarion.'

Chapter 24
In tantam enim a domino fuerat eleuatus gloriam, ut beatus quoque Antonius audiens conuersationem eius scriberet libenterque eius epistulas sumeret, et si quando de Syriae partibus ad se languentes perrexissent, diceret eis: "quare uos tam longe uexare uoluistis, cum habeatis ibi filium meum Hilarionem?"

'For to such a pitch of glory was he raised by the Lord that the blessed Antony among the rest hearing of his life wrote to him and gladly received his letters. And if ever the sick from Syria came to him he would say to them, "Why have you taken the trouble to come so far, when you have there my son Hilarion?"'

Text: Bastiaensen 1975. Translation: Fremantle et al. 1893.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Antony, 'the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356 : S00098 Hilarion, anachorite in Palestine and Cyprus (ob. 371) : S00099

Saint Name in Source

Antonius Hilarion

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bethlehem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jerome of Stridon

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Women Children


Jerome wrote the Life of Hilarion at the very beginning of the 390s, in the early years of his long stay in Bethlehem. Hilarion died in 371, before Jerome's first visit to the East, so he never met him personally: he probably learnt about the monk of Gaza from Epiphanius of Salamis. The Life presents Hilarion as a founder of monastic life in Palestine, a powerful miracle-worker, and a monk looking all his life for solitude. If the image of the hero and the monastic life presented by Jerome in his earlier life of Paul of Thebes is in many ways polemical to that presented in Athanasius' Life of Antony, Hilarion is depicted as a new, perhaps better, Antony: the polemic is gone. It is interesting to remark that in the Life of Hilarion Jerome aims to promote a posthumous cult of his hero: he mentions the miracles which occur both at his tomb in Maiuma, close to Gaza, and at the place of his first burial at Cyprus. Such a goal is not infrequent in later lives of holy monks, but at the end of the 4th century it was uncommon; in the Life of Antony we can see a desire to prevent the cult of its hero rather than to promote it, and the cultic aspect is also absent in Jerome's Lives of Paul and Malchus.


Edition: Bastiaensen, A.A.R., and Smit, J.W., in: Vita di Martino. Vita di Ilarione. In memoria di Paola (Vita dei santi 4; Milan: Mondadori, 1975), with Italian translation by L. Canali and C. Moreschini. Edition and French translation: Morales, E.M. (ed.), and Leclerc, P. (trans.), Jérôme, Trois vies de moines (Paul, Malchus, Hilarion) (Sources chrétienns 508; Paris: Cerf, 2007). English translation: Fremantle, W.H., Lewis, W., and Martley, W.G., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6 (Buffalo, NY, 1893). Further reading: Vogüé, A. de, Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique dans l'antiquité. Vol. 2 (Paris: Cerf, 1993), 163-236. Weingarten, S., The Saint's Saints: Hagiography and Geography in Jerome (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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