Commemorated on June 6
The Monk Ilarion
(Hilary) the New was born of pious parents, Peter and Theodosia, who raised
him in the virtues and instructed him in Holy Scripture. At twelve years of age
Saint Ilarion was tonsured into monasticism at the Isykhia monastery near
Byzantium, and from there he transferred to the Dalmatia monastery, where he
took on the great schema and became a disciple of the Monk Gregory Dekapolites
(Comm. 20 November). The monk deeply venerated his God-bearing
patronal-name saint – the Monk Ilarion the Great (Comm. 21 October), and he
strove to imitate his life, whereby he came to be called Ilarion the New. At
the Dalmatia monastery they ordained him presbyter. After the death of the
hegumen the brethren wanted to elect Saint Ilarion to this position, but
learning of this, he secretly withdrew away to Byzantium.
Then the monks of
Dalmatia monastery sent off a petition to Sainted Patriarch Nikephoros, asking
that the Monk Ilarion be assigned as hegumen. The Patriarch summoned the saint
and persuaded him to give his assent. The Monk Ilarion submitted out of holy
obedience. Over the course of eight years he peacefully guided the monastery.
But in the year 813 the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) occupied the
imperial throne. The monk refused to blaspheme holy icons and he boldly accused
the emperor of heresy, for which he endured many torments. They locked him up
in prison for awhile, and vexed him with hunger and thirst. The impious
patriarch Theodotos, having replaced the exiled Patriarch Nikephoros, caused
the monk much suffering in demanding a rejection of Orthodoxy. The monks of the
Dalmatia monastery went to the emperor and besought him to release the saint,
promising to submit to the imperial will. But having returned to the monastery,
the Monk Ilarion and all the monks continued to venerate holy icons. The
enraged emperor again locked up the monk in prison. With all the powers at his disposal
to demand a renunciation, he gave the saint over to torture and confined him in
But the wrath of God
overtook the wicked emperor: he was cut down by his own soldiers in church at
that very spot, where once before he had thrown down an holy icon. The new
emperor Michael II the Stammerer (820-829) set free the Monk Ilarion from his
imprisonment, and the saint settled into a solitary cell. Upon the death of the
Monk Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November) – who likewise had suffered for
holy icons, the Monk Ilarion was vouchsafed to behold holy Angels lifting up to
Heaven the holy soul of Saint Theodore.
Under the iconoclast
emperor Theophilos (829-842), the Monk Ilarion was again put under guard, and
beaten terribly, and they confined him on the island of Athysia.
After the death of
Theophilos, the holy empress Saint Theodora (842-855) gave orders to restore
the confessors from exile. The Monk Ilarion returned to the Dalmatia monastery,
again accepting to be hegumen at it, and he peacefully died in the year 845.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.