December 12, 2018

Saint Abra, Daughter of Hilary of Poitiers (+ 360)

St. Abra of Poitiers (Feast Day - December 12)

Saint Abra was the daughter of Hilary of Poitiers, born around 343. She was born before her father converted to Christianity and was made a bishop. During her father's exile from Poitiers, she and her mother remained there. She is remembered for her work among the poor and spreading of Christianity in the area around Poitiers, France.

During this time, the son of the governor declared his love for Abra to her mother and sought her permission to marry. When Hilary heard that a marriage was being contrived for his daughter, he was incensed, for he had hoped that she would dedicate herself to virginity. He therefore wrote her a letter dissuading her from marriage and urging her towards the higher calling of a life of virginity, encouraging her to remain pure and far from the pleasures of the world.

Abra could not refuse the will of her father, whom she reverenced as an oracle from God. With the letter he sent her a couple of hymns he composed, one for the morning and one for the evening, and he begged her to sing these daily, and thus have her father constantly on her mind. The second of these hymns has been lost, but the first is preserved, and is sung during Matins at Poitiers on the feast of Saint Abra.

Shortly after the return of Hilary in 360, his daughter fell grievously ill, and died at the age of seventeen. Her mother died soon after this. Her feast day is celebrated on 12 December in Poitiers, and is remembered in the Pont de Abra bridge, France. She was buried in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Poitiers, but the relics were lost with time. The gravestone of her sepulcher is still preserved in the Church of Saint Hilary in Poitiers.