St Hilary of Poitiers – 13th January. Saint Hilary was a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, originally from a wealthy pagan family. In Gaul he received a good education including a high level in Greek. Drawn spiritually to seek a higher power he began to study the Bible and abandoned his Neo-Platonism for Christianity. Hilary was held in high regard by his fellow Christians and in 350 was appointed Bishop of Poitiers. He fearlessly championed Catholic orthodoxy against the prevalent heresy of Arianism and for this reason is often referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians”. After having refused bluntly to attend the council convened by Emperor Constantius II in 355 where Arian opposition was influential he was consequently exiled in 356 to Phrygia. Hilary was a strong charismatic character and the banishment to Phrygia refused to silence him and his quest against Arianism, it was here he wrote some of his greatest works including De Trinitate which emphasizes the Divinity of Christ and “De Synodis” which concentrates on Eastern religious thought and practice. In 361 he returned to the diocese of Poitiers where he spent his final days. In 1851 he was named a Doctor of the Church, Hilary is invoked to help those children with learning difficulties.
St John of Ribera – 14th January. St John was born in Seville in 1532 he was the son of the Viceroy of Naples and Duke of Alcala. He spent his earlier years studying at the university of Salamanca and in 1557 was ordained as a priest. At the age of thirty he was appointed Bishop of Badajoz and in 1568 was given the office of Archbishop and Viceroy of Valencia by King Phillip III of Spain. The two titles give him an abundance of authority which enabled him to establish “The Museum Patriarch” now known as the College of St John, in Valencia. The power accredited to him also gave him the ability to expel Valencia´s large Morisco population, who were descendants of Muslims, who converted to Christianity to avoid the threat of exile. John´s treatment of this community was extremely harsh as he viewed them a heretics, as many of them even after their conversion continued to adhere to parts of the Islamic religion and traditions. Partly due to his severe treatment of the Morisco´s there was some debate over his canonization which did not take place until 1960 by Pope John XXIII. John´s main shrine is situated at the Royal Collage of Corpus Christi in Valencia.
St Anthony the Great of Egypt – 17th January. Anthony was Christian monk from Egypt revered since his death as a Saint he is known as “The Father of All Monks”. He was born in Coma in Egypt, a son of wealthy Christian parents. When he was 18 his parents died leaving him a large inheritance which he immediately gave to the poor and needy. He adopted an ascetic lifestyle and lived as a hermit spending his time in contemplative prayer and manual labour. After 15 years in the same place he moved to an abandoned fort at Pispir where he remained for 20 years and lived only on the scraps people threw over the walls. Soon a group of followers gathered around his retreat eager to adopt a similar existence and in 305 a small community under his direction was formed. Later on he established yet another foundation in a monastery in Pispir. Spending much time in seclusion on Mount Colzim in 355, he left his solitary life to visit Alexandria where he helped to join in the fight against Arianism with his friend Athanasius who provides us with most of the information about Anthony´s life. Finally in 356 he returned to Mount Colzim where he spent his last days .He is remembered for his sound teaching and personal warmth, a role model for solitaries and monks ever since.