St. Anthony of Egypt – Founder of Monasticism (251-356)

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Anthony of Egypt, founder of monasticism.

Born in Coma, Upper Egypt to wealthy parents, Anthony got rid of all his possessions and lived among the local ascetics as a youth. Later he withdrew into the desert, where he lived in complete solitude and was repeatedly tempted by the devil. Remaining steadfast, he attracted a number of disciples to a hermit’s life in the desert and a small monastery was formed at the place. From there he, in 311, went to Alexandria to encourage the confessors during the persecution of the Emperor Maximinus Daia (emperor in the east 310-313).

St. Anthony was reputed to be a miracle-maker and many were converted by him. His surviving works include a letter to the Emperor Constantine and  several ones to different monasteries. St. Athanasius, who knew Anthony well and wrote his biography, said, “Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God.”

Anthony lived a long and righteous life and died at the age of 105. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave. In 561 his relics were transferred to Alexandria, and much later, they were claimed by Constantinople and by La Motte, where the Order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony was founded c. 1100.

O God, by Your Holy Spirit You enabled Your servant Anthony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow You, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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