Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 25 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Herman “the Cripple”
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How St. Hilarion converted a band of robbers with a simple response

U.S. Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 10/21/19

The robbers thought they could have their way with St. Hilarion, but were not prepared for what he said next.

St. Hilarion was among the earliest Christians to devote himself entirely to a life of prayer and fasting. He lived with St. Anthony of the Desert during the 4th century, and after Anthony’s death spent the remainder of his life with few possessions besides the ragged cloak that he wore.

Early on, St. Hilarion built for himself a small hut where he prayed night and day, observing some of the most severe penances imaginable. It was at this time that a band of robbers can roaming through the desert in hopes of finding him, thinking that he was hiding something of value.

St. Jerome writes in his Life of St. Hilarion about this episode, and how the robbers were immediately stunned by what they discovered.

While still living in the hut, at the age of eighteen, robbers came to him by night, either supposing that he had something which they might carry off, or considering that they would be brought into contempt if a solitary boy felt no dread of their attacks. They searched up and down between the sea and the marsh from evening until daybreak without being able to find his resting place. Then, having discovered the boy by the light of day they asked him, half in jest, What would you do if robbers came to you? He replied, He that has nothing does not fear robbers. Said they, At all events, you might be killed. I might, said he, I might; and therefore I do not fear robbers because I am prepared to die. Then they marveled at his firmness and faith, confessed how they had wandered about in the night, and how their eyes had been blinded, and promised to lead a stricter life in the future.

This response was entirely unexpected and jolted them from their sinful ways.

Often robbers thrive on creating fear in others and it fuels their pride. St. Hilarion took the wind out of their sails and revealed to them that there is more to this life than possessions. He pointed to an alternative way of looking at the world, with an unwavering confidence in God and the promise of Heaven.

This episode can help us examine our lives, as we imagine a similar situation. Are we afraid of losing our possessions? Does death frighten us? How much do we trust God?

May St. Hilarion intercede for us and help us value what truly matters in this world.


Read more:
How St. Anthony the Abbot defeated the devil


Read more:
Who was the first Christian hermit?

SaintsSpiritual Life
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.