Indeed, Anthony the Hermit was like a doctor given to Egypt by God; for who went to him in sorrow and did not return rejoicing? So who came to him weeping for the dead and did not immediately leave crying? And also, who came to him sorrowfully and did not instantly turn to friendship and love?
Saint Anthony the Hermit lived in the third and early fourth centuries. He is considered the founder of monastic life and the most representative ascetic for the spirit of monastic life. Born in the village of Coma in Middle Egypt in 251, this great luminary of the faith was the son of Christian peasants. In this environment, he learned the way of faith.
So our father Antony was of Egyptian origin, born of good parents who had much wealth; also being Christians, they brought him up as a Christian. Therefore, when he was a little boy, he stayed with his parents, knowing no one more than they and their house.
Who is Anthony in Bible?
When Antony was 20 years old, after the death of his parents, wondering about his way in life, the happy man heard in church the words of Christ: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; afterward come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Therefore, Antony, putting these words into his heart, distributed his wealth to the poor, entrusted his sister to a community of virgins, and also withdrew into solitude.
According to the Bible, Saint Anthony is a hermit monk who lived in the 3rd and early 4th centuries. He is considered the founder of monastic life and the most representative ascetic for the spirit of monastic life.
After making a journey to Alexandria in 310 to take up the cause of the Christians persecuted by Maximin, Antony settled in 312 in the depths of the desert on Mount Kolzim. So here, the saint remained with two disciples until the end of his life, never leaving the place except to visit his disciples and for his second journey to Alexandria in support of Saint Athanasius the Great, persecuted by the Arianism.
Biography of Anthony the Great
Full name: Anthony of Lérins
Date of birth: 12 January 0251 AD
Year of death: 17 January 0356 AD
The thread of life: 105 years old
Place of birth: Roman province of Valeria
Father's name: It is not known.
Mother's name: It is not known.
Physical appearance: slender and very tall
Summary of life: Our Father Antony was of Egyptian origin, born of good parents, who had much wealth; and being Christians, they brought him up as a Christian. When he was a child, he stayed with his parents, knowing no one more than they and their house.
Life lessons: But when he grew up and grew older, increasing in age, he did not want to learn books and be with other children; and like a true Christian, he went to church with his parents. He was not idle as a child, even as he grew older, but obeyed his parents, and taking heed to the readings, thought of their profit.
Life accomplishments: Antony, having learned from the Scriptures that there are many wiles of the enemy, was continually in need, thinking that though he could not deceive his heart with the sweetness of the body, yet he would surely tempt him by another craft, for the devil is very fond of sin.
Death cause: Natural causes.
What is Saint Anthony the patron saint of?
Anthony the Hermit was born in 250 in the Egyptian town of Koman and passed away in 356. At the age of 105, in the wilderness where he also had spent most of his life as a nun. After having buried St Paul the Theban.
Saint Anthony has been declared the patron saint of children and mental illness. Also, Anthony the Great is celebrated on 17 January. Saint Anthony was a man of Egyptian descent who has remained in the memory of the Church. As the first great Christian hermit.
Before he died, St. Anthony left his disciples a will, asking to be buried in a secret place where no one would discover him. So they respected the Saint’s wishes and buried his body so that, for centuries, no one found it.
Why is Saint Anthony considered to be the founder of monarchical life?
Saint Anthony learned monastic devotion from an old hermit, that is, the interweaving of prayer with work. After some time, at the age of 35, the curate will withdraw even more to the wilderness, in the place called Pispir, sear the Red Sea, where he will be a novice for twenty years, until 306.
Antony is considered the beginner of monastic life because he renounced all worldly things and withdrew into the desert to be perfect in Christ. Even though Saint Antony was not a learned man, he became a spiritual father to countless Carthusians of the time Saint Athanasius, the future Patriarch of Alexandria.
His life was recorded in writing by his disciple, St. Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria (298-373), shortly after the death of his spiritual father, between 357-359. The work, called “The Life of Saint Anthony the Great,” is one of the first hagiographic works.
3 Moral Legacies left behind by Saint Anthony
Several words of St. Antony have been preserved to this day in seven epistolary writings, mentioned by Blessed Jerome, as well as in the form of apothegms, as we find them inscribed in the “Egyptian Paterich” and the first volume of the Philokalia.
1. The teaching of truth
“It is fitting that people should strive to live their lives and habits according to truth and virtue. For in so doing, they easily know the divine. Whoever worships God with all his heart and faith, God also helps him to control his anger and lust. For the cause of all evil are lust and anger.”
2. About the slaves of the fleshly passions
“Count not those free who are free by chance, but those free by life and by skill. In truth, it is not fitting to call free those wicked and profligate, for they are slaves to the passions of the flesh. Free and happy is only the soul free and free from temporal things.”
3. Signs of knowing a rational and virtuous soul
“Here are the signs by which a rational and virtuous soul is known: the look, the walk, the voice, the laugh, the occupations, and the meetings with people. All these points to more and more virtue. So their God-loving mind makes them sober hosts and closes the entrance to passions and shameful remembrances.”
What did Saint Anthony do?
Antony still attends church services ‘and is so preoccupied with listening to biblical pericopes that his memory will hold his books. But on one of those days in church, he heard the Lord’s exhortation: Do not worry about tomorrow.
At the age of 20, St. Anthony, being in church, hears the words of the Gospel that the Saviour Jesus Christ addresses to the rich young man and ends up giving all he has to gain treasure in Heaven: ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your wealth, give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow Me.
Heeding these words, Antony sells his possessions and gives the money to the poor but keeps a small part of the money to look after his sister. Indeed, he retires to the outskirts of the village, beginning a life of asceticism or spiritual need under the guidance of an Anahoret who lives nearby.
Was Saint Anthony The Hermit possessed?
Indeed, Antony hid in a cave and practiced harsh asceticism for 13 years, fasting, praying and also struggling with evil thoughts and temptations from demons, after which Saint Antony crossed the Nile and moved to a place called Pispir. So at the edge of the desert, where he would remain in isolation for 20 years in a deserted fortress. After these 20 years in solitude, Saint Anthony welcomed those looking for him, thus gathering a crowd of disciples around him.
According to his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, for 12 years, St Anthony was also tormented by demons who tempted him with carnal desires. They even sometimes took strange forms of sexual temptation and even struck him, leaving him almost dead.
During the persecution of Maximin Daia in 311, Saint Antony went to Alexandria to defend those persecuted and judged for the Christian faith. So after the end of the persecutions, following the Edict of Milan of 313 by St Constantine the Great. He also retreats again into the wilderness, settling at the foot of Mount Qlzum.
Key Verse related to St. Anthony the Great
“The person who abides in solitude and quiet is delivered from fighting three battles: hearing, speech, and sight. Then there remains one battle to fight the battle of the heart.”
What is Saint Anthony best known for?
Anthony the Hermit wanted to be completely isolated from the world, after the model of the desert hermits, and lived a very harsh life: he received bread through the roof of the house twice a year because the front door was bricked up.
Saint Anthony remained emblematic and the most known for any monk or ordinary Christian regarding his struggle with temptations and devils. Time and again, the devil approached Antony, first secretly, to drive him out of prayer and the wilderness and then openly, to frighten him and make him stop prayingAlsols,o through his faith and humility, the saint could not be defeated by any devil and even saw how the devils worked with the other brothers in Christ.
So the “Father of monks” who lived 85 years in the desert, the great priest Antony, healed the sick and cured the demonized. Nowadays, as in the 4th century, St Antony is also considered the patron of orphans and the poor, hastily helping those who pray in faith and call upon him for help.
What is also known about Saint Anthony?
Prayers said to Saint Anthony the Great help to fulfill many wishes. The saint is said to help people with serious health problems and those who have been cursed or bewitched. So for those who want peace of mind and cannot start a family, it is best to go and pray to St Anthony the Great. It is said that here all wishes will come true.
It is said that the faith of this Saint Anthony was so great that the devil gave up trying to lure him into his snares. But, because of his humility, this Saint had the grace to perform miracles.
The prayers said to Saint Anthony the Great help to fulfill many wishes. So for those who want peace of mind and cannot start a family, it is best to go and pray to St Anthony the Great. So it is said that here all wishes will come true.
9 Traditions and Customs of Saint Anthony the Great
- According to tradition, on the feast of Anthony the Hermit, no sweetmeats are eaten.
- So, for a prosperous year, it is good to make packages of food and clothes and distribute them to poor people.
- To be safe from evil spirits, spells, or other dangers, people honor this day of January 17 with holiness through prayer and good thoughts.
- It is also said that Saint Anthony is known as a saint who sends the rain, and women observed this feast to have their homes and households protected.
- Those who want their wishes granted should heed these customs.
- Packages are also made and given to the poor.
- For also good health, making packages and giving them to needy people is good.
- On the day of this great festival, no washing of clothes and no ironing.
- Also, taking care of household chores on St. Anthony the Great is not good.
- Around 310, the Custos made a trip to Alexandria to encourage Christians to be persecuted during the Roman persecutions under the Roman Emperor Maximilian.
- Therefore, the great hermit passed to eternal life in 356 at 105. So he left behind an impressive number of ascetic disciples worldwide, to whom he left the word of teaching: To believe in Jesus and flee from temptations and devilish deceptions.
- Interestingly, Saint Anthony the Great responded in writing to messages from believers from all walks of life. In time, his disciples built a monastery on the site where the saint spent the last years of his life.
Respecting also the wishes of their spiritual father, the disciples buried the monk’s body in such a way that, for centuries, no one discovered it. Only in recent years, following research carried out for the restoration of the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Egypt, the builders concluded that the tomb with the relics of the Saint would be under the Holy Table of the central church of the monastery.
Respecting the wishes of the Custos, who said to his disciples in his will: “You will bury my body, let no one know the place except yourselves. And at the Resurrection of the dead I will take it untouched from the Saviour”, the tomb remained sealed.
Thank you also for joining us in understanding who Anthony the Hermit is. Test your knowledge with a quiz from the following line to determine how well you understand his character and life. Have a wonderful day!
Quizlet about Anthony The Great
- Anthony, S. The Hermit Saints.
- Cockerell, S. C. (1933). Two pictorial lives of St. Anthony the Great. The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, 62(359), 59-67.
- Gšrg, P. H. (2011). The Desert Fathers: Anthony and the Beginnings of Monasticism. Ignatius Press.
- Knox, G. (1991). Sebastiano Ricci’s Saint Anthony Abbot is attending the body of Saint Paul the Hermit.
- Thornton, J. (1998). The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684-1706. Cambridge University Press.