ListMoto - Anthony The Great

--- Advertisement ---

(i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

SAINT ANTHONY or ANTONY (Greek : Ἀντώνιος, Antṓnios; Latin : Antonius, Coptic : Ⲁⲃⲃⲁ Ⲁⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓ ; c. 251–356) was a Christian
monk from Egypt
, revered since his death as a saint . He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony by various epithets: ANTHONY THE GREAT, ANTHONY OF EGYPT, ANTHONY THE ABBOT, ANTHONY OF THE DESERT, ANTHONY THE ANCHORITE, and ANTHONY OF THEBES. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism , he is also known as the FATHER OF ALL MONKS. His feast day is celebrated on January 17 among the Orthodox and Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Egyptian calendar used by the Coptic Church .

The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism , particularly in Western Europe via its Latin
translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian
monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness (about AD 270), a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt
inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism , erysipelas , and shingles , were referred to as St. Anthony's fire.


* 1 Life

* 1.1 Early years * 1.2 Hermit
* 1.3 Father of Monks * 1.4 Final days

* 2 Temptation

* 2.1 The satyr and the centaur * 2.2 Silver and gold * 2.3 Demons in the cave

* 3 Veneration * 4 Coptic literature * 5 Popular literature * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links



Anthony was born in Coma in Lower Egypt
in AD 251 to wealthy landowner parents. When he was about 18 years old, his parents died and left him with the care of his unmarried sister. Shortly thereafter, he decided to follow the Evangelical counsel of Jesus which reads, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven." Anthony gave away some of his family's lands to his neighbors, sold the remaining property, and donated the funds thus raised to the poor. He then left to live an ascetic life, placing his sister with a group of Christian virgins , a sort of proto-convent.


Painting of Saint Anthony, a part of The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot by Piero di Cosimo
Piero di Cosimo
, c. 1480

For the next fifteen years, Anthony remained in the area, spending the first years as the disciple of another local hermit . There are various legends associating Anthony with pigs : one is that he worked as a swineherd during this period.

Anthony is sometimes considered the first monk, and the first to initiate solitary desertification, but there were others before him. There were already ascetic pagan hermits (the Therapeutae ) and loosely organized cenobitic communities were described by the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria in the 1st century AD as long established in the harsh environment of Lake Mareotis and in other less accessible regions. Philo opined that "this class of persons may be met with in many places, for both Greece and barbarian countries want to enjoy whatever is perfectly good." Christian ascetics such as Thecla had likewise retreated to isolated locations at the outskirts of cities. Anthony is notable for having decided to surpass this tradition and headed out into the desert proper. He left for the alkaline Nitrian Desert (later the location of the noted monasteries of Nitria , Kellia , and Scetis ) on the edge of the Western Desert about 95 km (59 mi) west of Alexandria
. He remained there for 13 years.

According to Athanasius
, the devil fought Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art . After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious. When his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church.

After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back into the desert to a farther mountain by the Nile
called Pispir (now Der-el-Memun), opposite Arsinoe . There he lived strictly enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some 20 years. According to Athanasius
, the devil again resumed his war against Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes, and scorpions. They appeared as if they were about to attack him or cut him into pieces. But the saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke. While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread that would sustain him for six months. He did not allow anyone to enter his cell; whoever came to him stood outside and listened to his advice.

Then one day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers, who broke down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. Instead, he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow. Anthony went to Fayyum and confirmed the brethren there in the Christian
faith before returning to his fort.

Amid the Diocletian Persecutions , Anthony wished to become a martyr and in 311 went to Alexandria
. He visited those who were imprisoned for the sake of Christ
and comforted them. When the Governor saw that he was confessing his Christianity
publicly, not caring what might happen to him, he ordered him not to show up in the city. However, the Saint did not heed his threats. He faced him and argued with him in order that he might arouse his anger so that he might be tortured and martyred, but it did not happen.


The former main altar of the hermitage church in Warfhuizen in the Netherlands
with a mural of Anthony the Abbot and a reliquary with some of his relics . Since then they have been moved to a new golden shrine on a side-altar especially made for them Four tales on Anthony the Great
Anthony the Great
by Vitale da Bologna at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna

At the end of the persecutions, Anthony returned to his old Roman fort. By this time, many more had heard of his sanctity and he had many more visitors than before. He saw these visits as interfering with his worship and went further into the Eastern Desert . He traveled for three days before reaching a small oasis with a spring and some palm trees and chose to settle there. Disciples soon found him out and his number of visitors again continued to grow.

Anthony had not been the first ascetic or hermit, but he may properly be called the "Father of Monasticism" in Christianity, as he organized his disciples into a worshipful community and inspired similar withdrawn communities throughout Egypt
and, following the spread of Athanasius's hagiography, the Greek and Roman world. His follower Macarius the Great was particularly active in continuing his legacy.

Anthony anticipated the rule of Benedict by about 200 years, engaging himself and his disciples in manual labor. Anthony himself cultivated a garden and wove rush mats. He and his disciples were regularly sought for words of enlightenment. These statements were later collected into the book of Sayings of the Desert Fathers . Anthony himself is said to have spoken to those of a spiritual disposition personally, leaving the task of addressing the more worldly visitors to Macarius . On occasions, he would go to the monastery on the outskirts of the desert by the Nile
to visit the brethren, then return to his inner monastery .

The backstory of one of the surviving epistles, directed to Constantine I , recounts how the fame of Saint Anthony spread abroad and reached Emperor Constantine. The Emperor wrote to him offering praise and requesting prayers. The brethren were pleased with the Emperor's letter, but Anthony did not pay any attention to it, and he said to them, "The books of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, commands us every day, but we do not heed what they tell us, and we turn our backs on them." Under the persistence of the brethren who told him "Emperor Constantine loves the church", he accepted to write him a letter blessing him, and praying for the peace and safety of the empire and the church.

According to Athanasius, Saint Anthony heard a voice telling him "Go out and see." He went out and saw an angel who wore a girdle with a cross, one resembling the holy Eskiem ( Tonsure or Schema ), and on his head was a head cover (Kolansowa). He was sitting while braiding palm leaves, then he stood up to pray, and again he sat to weave. A voice came to him saying, "Anthony, do this and you will rest." Henceforth, he started to wear this tunic that he saw, and began to weave palm leaves, and never was bored again. Saint Anthony prophesied about the persecution that was about to happen to the church and the control of the heretics over it, the church victory and its return to its former glory, and the end of the age. When Saint Macarius visited Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony clothed him with the monk's garb, and foretold him what would be of him. When the day drew near of the departure of Saint Paul the First Hermit
in the desert, Saint Anthony went to him and buried him, after clothing him in a tunic which was a present from St Athanasius
the Apostolic , the 20th Patriarch of Alexandria

In 338, he left the desert temporarily to visit Alexandria
to help refute the teachings of Arius
. Although not particularly learned, Anthony was able to confound the Arians.


When Saint Anthony felt that the day of his departure had approached, he commanded his disciples to give his staff to Saint Macarius , and to give one sheepskin cloak to Saint Athanasius
and the other sheepskin cloak to Saint Serapion , his disciple. He further instructed his disciples to bury his body in an unmarked, secret grave .

He probably spoke only his native language, Coptic , but his sayings were spread in a Greek translation. He himself left no writings. His biography was written by Saint Athanasius
and titled Life of Saint Anthony the Great. Many stories are also told about him in various collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers . A copy by the young Michelangelo
after an engraving by Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer
around 1487–9, The Torment of Saint Anthony . Oil and tempera on panel. One of many artistic depictions of Saint Anthony's trials in the desert

Though Anthony himself did not organize or create a monastery, a community grew around him based on his example of living an ascetic and isolated life. Athanasius' biography helped propagate Anthony's ideals. Athanasius
writes, "For monks, the life of Anthony is a sufficient example of asceticism ." Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals.

The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
helped to spread the concept of Christian
monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin
translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian
monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness (about ad 270), a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt
inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were referred to as St. Anthony's fire.


See also: Temptation of Saint Anthony in visual arts

Famously, Anthony is said to have faced a series of supernatural temptations during his pilgrimage to the desert. The first to report on the temptation was his contemporary Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
. It is possible these events, like the paintings, are full of rich metaphor or in the case of the animals of the desert, perhaps a vision or dream. Some of the stories included in Saint Anthony's biography are perpetuated now mostly in paintings, where they give an opportunity for artists to depict their more lurid or bizarre interpretations. Many artists, including Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer
, Hieronymus Bosch
Hieronymus Bosch
, Dorothea Tanning , Max Ernst
Max Ernst
, Leonora Carrington and Salvador Dalí , have depicted these incidents from the life of Anthony; in prose, the tale was retold and embellished by Gustave Flaubert in The Temptation
of Saint Anthony .

Emphasis on these stories, however, did not really begin until the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, when the psychology of the individual became of greater interest. Below are some of these controversial tales.


The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul, Master of the Osservanza , 15th century

Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find Saint Paul of Thebes , who according to his dream was a better Hermit
than he. Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to the dream, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his "better", Saint Paul. On his way there, he ran into two demons in the forms of a centaur and a satyr , which Western theology considers to have been temptations.

At any rate, he was stopped by the two demons and he asked them, "Who are you?" To that the satyr replied, "I am a corpse, one of those whom the heathen call satyrs, and by whom they are snared into idolatry." The satyr then tried to terrify the saint while the centaur acknowledged the overthrow of the gods. In the end, the centaur tried to show Saint Anthony the way to his destination while the satyr ended up asking for Saint Anthony's blessing.


Another time Saint Anthony was travelling in the desert, he found a plate of silver coins in his path. He pondered for a moment as to why a plate of silver coins would be out in the desert where no one else travels, and realised the Devil must have laid it out there to tempt him. To that he said, "Ha! Devil, thou weenest to tempt me and deceive me, but it shall not be in thy power." Once he said this, the plate of silver vanished.

Saint Anthony continued walking along and saw a pile of gold in his way which the Devil had laid there to deceive him. Saint Anthony cast the pile of gold into a fire, and it vanished just like the silver coins did. After these events, Saint Anthony had a vision where the whole world was full of snares and traps. He cried to the Lord, "Oh good Lord, who may escape from these snares?" A voice replied, "Humility shall escape them without more."


Once, Saint Anthony tried hiding in a cave to escape the demons that plagued him. There were so many little demons in the cave though that Saint Anthony's servant had to carry him out because they had beaten him to death. When the hermits were gathered to Saint Anthony's corpse to mourn his death, Saint Anthony was revived. He demanded that his servants take him back to that cave where the demons had beaten him. When he got there he called out to the demons, and they came back as wild beasts to rip him to shreds. All of a sudden a bright light flashed, and the demons ran away. Saint Anthony knew that the light must have come from God, and he asked God where was he before when the demons attacked him. God replied, "I was here but I would see and abide to see thy battle, and because thou hast mainly fought and well maintained thy battle, I shall make thy name to be spread through all the world."


Most of what is known about Saint Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony. Written in Greek around 360 by Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
, it depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primordial landscape has an absolute connection to the divine truth, which always is in harmony with that of Athanasius
as the biographer. Sometime before 374, it was translated into Latin
by Evagrius of Antioch . The Latin
translation helped the Life become one of the best known works of literature in the Christian
world, a status it would hold through the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
. In addition to the Life, several surviving homilies and epistles of varying authenticity provide some additional autobiographical detail. Pilgrimage banners from the shrine in Warfhuizen

Anthony had been secretly buried on the mountain-top where he had chosen to live. His remains were reportedly discovered in 361, and transferred to Alexandria
. Some time later, they were taken from Alexandria
to Constantinople
, so that they might escape the destruction being perpetrated by invading Saracens . In the eleventh century, the Byzantine emperor
Byzantine emperor
gave them to the French Count
Jocelin. Jocelin had them transferred to La-Motte-Saint-Didier, which was then renamed Saint-Antoine-en-Dauphiné . There, Anthony is credited with assisting in a number of miraculous healings, primarily from ergotism , which became known as "St. Anthony's Fire". He was credited by two local noblemen of assisting them in recovery from the disease. They then founded the Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony in honor of him, who specialized in nursing the victims of skin diseases.

Veneration of Anthony in the East is more restrained. There are comparatively few icons and paintings of him. He is regarded as the "first master of the desert and the pinnacle of holy monks", however, and there are monastic communities of the Maronite, Chaldean, and Orthodox churches which state that they follow his monastic rule. During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, Anthony, along with Quirinus of Neuss , Cornelius and Hubertus , was venerated as one of the Four Holy Marshals (Vier Marschälle Gottes) in the Rhineland


Part of a series on


Theology · Philosophy

* Apophatic * Ascetical * Cataphatic * Catholic spirituality * Hellenistic * Mystical theology

* Neoplatonic

* Henosis

Practices Monasticism

* Monasticism
* Asceticism * Spiritual direction


* Meditation * Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina

Active ascetism

* Contemplation


* Hesychasm * Jesus
prayer * Quietism

* Stages of Christian
perfection * Divinization


* Catharsis * Theosis

* Kenosis * Spiritual dryness

Passive ascetism

* Abstinence

People (by era or century)


* Ancient African * Origen
* Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
* Pseudo-Dionysius

Desert Fathers

* Paul of Thebes * Anthony the Great * Arsenius the Great * Poemen * Macarius of Egypt
* Moses the Black
Moses the Black
* Syncletica * Athanasius
* John Chrysostom * Hilarion * John Cassian
John Cassian

11th · 12th

* Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
* Guigo II * Hildegard of Bingen * Hadewijch * Symeon the New Theologian
Symeon the New Theologian

13th · 14th


* Dominic de Guzmán


* Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi
* Anthony of Padua
Anthony of Padua
* Bonaventure
* Jacopone da Todi * Angela of Foligno


* Richard Rolle * Walter Hilton
Walter Hilton
* Julian of Norwich * Margery Kempe


* Beatrice of Nazareth * John of Ruysbroeck


* Meister Eckhart * Johannes Tauler * Henry Suso
Henry Suso


* Beatrice of Nazareth * Bridget of Sweden
Bridget of Sweden
* Catherine of Siena
Catherine of Siena

15th · 16th


* Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius of Loyola
* Francisco de Osuna
Francisco de Osuna
* John of Ávila * Teresa of Ávila * John of the Cross


* Catherine of Genoa
Catherine of Genoa

17th · 18th


* Pierre de Bérulle * Jean-Jacques Olier
Jean-Jacques Olier
* Louis de Montfort * Charles de Condren * John Eudes
John Eudes
* John of St. Samson


* María de Ágreda * Anne Catherine Emmerich * Veronica Giuliani
Veronica Giuliani
* Francis de Sales
Francis de Sales


* Dina Bélanger * Catherine Labouré * Mélanie Calvat
Mélanie Calvat
* Maximin Giraud * Bernadette Soubirous
Bernadette Soubirous
* Conchita de Armida * Luisa Piccarreta
Luisa Piccarreta
* Mary of the Divine Heart
Mary of the Divine Heart
* Thérèse of Lisieux * Gemma Galgani


* Padre Pio
Padre Pio
* Therese Neumann * Marthe Robin * Adrienne von Speyr
Adrienne von Speyr
* Alexandrina of Balazar * Faustina Kowalska * Sister Lúcia of Fátima * Edgar Cayce
Edgar Cayce
* Simone Weil * Alfred Delp * Thomas Merton * Charles de Foucauld
Charles de Foucauld

Contemporary papal views Aspects of meditation (Orationis Formas, 1989) Reflection on the New Age (2003)

Literature · Media

* Lingua Ignota * Ordo Virtutum * Scivias * Ascent of Mount Carmel
Ascent of Mount Carmel
* Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul
* Spiritual Canticle
Spiritual Canticle
* Way of Perfection * Interior Castle * Abbey of the Holy Ghost * A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation * Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul * From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart
From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart
* The Glories of Mary * The Imitation of Christ
* The Ladder of Divine Ascent
The Ladder of Divine Ascent
* Philokalia * Revelations of Divine Love * Spiritual Canticle
Spiritual Canticle
* The Story of a Soul
The Story of a Soul
* Theologia Germanica * Devotio Moderna * The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima * Sol de Fátima * The Cloud of Unknowing
The Cloud of Unknowing
* The Consolation of Philosophy * The Mirror of Simple Souls * Sister Catherine Treatise * Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii * The Vision of Adamnán

* Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy

* Inferno * Purgatorio * Paradiso

* v * t * e

Examples of purely Coptic literature are the works of Saint Anthony and Saint Pachomius
, who only spoke Coptic, and the sermons and preachings of Saint Shenouda the Archmandrite , who chose to only write in Coptic. Saint Shenouda was a popular leader who only spoke to Egyptians in the Egyptian language (Coptic ), not in Greek.

The earliest original writings in Coptic language
Coptic language
were the letters by Saint Anthony. During the 3rd and 4th centuries many ecclesiastics and monks wrote in Coptic.


The main character in the Hervey Allen novel Anthony Adverse , and the 1936 film of the same name, is an abandoned child who is placed in a foundling wheel on the saint's feast day, and given the name Anthony in his honor.


* Saints portal

* Coptic Saints
Coptic Saints
* Chariton the Confessor
Chariton the Confessor
, contemporary monk who established Christian monasticism in the Judaean desert * Hermit
* Monastery of Saint Anthony , Egypt
* Patron saints of ailments, illness and dangers * Poustinia * The Temptation
of St. Anthony * St. Anthony Hall
St. Anthony Hall


* ^ Jack Tresidder, ed. (2005). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-4767-5 . * ^ Cornwell, Hilarie; James Cornwell (2009). Saints, Signs, and Symbols (3rd ed.). Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing. ISBN 0-8192-2345-X . * ^ Liechtenstein, the Princely Collections, catalogue of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, p.276 * ^ A B C D E F G H I J Michael Walsh, ed. (1991). Butler's Lives of the Saints (Concise, Revised & Updated, 1st HarperCollins ed.). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-069299-5 . * ^ "Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica, Cenni storici (1701-2001)". Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica (in Italian). Vatican, Roman Curia. Retrieved 17 January 2017. * ^ A B Endsjø, Dag Øistein (2008). Primordial landscapes, Incorruptible Bodies. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 1-4331-0181-5 . * ^ A B C EB (1878) . * ^ Athanasius
(1998). Life of Antony. 3. Carolinne White, trans. London: Penguin Books. p. 10. ISBN 0-8146-2377-8 . * ^ A B C EB (1911) . * ^ Sax, Boria. "How Saint Anthony Brought Fire to the World". Retrieved 2013-01-04. * ^ "A few words about the life and writings of St. Anthony the Great". orthodoxthought.sovietpedia.com. Retrieved 2017-03-24. * ^ Philo. De Vita Contemplativa . . * ^ "Britannica, Saint Anthony". http://global.britannica.com. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: access-date= (help ); External link in publisher= (help ) * ^ "Saint Anthony Father of the Monks". www.coptic.net. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: access-date= (help ) * ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia – St. Anthony". New Advent. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: access-date= (help ) * ^ A B González, Justo (1984), The Story of Christianity, Prince Press, p. 141, ISBN 978-1-56563-522-7 , retrieved 18 May 2013 * ^ Vitae Patrum, Book 1a- Collected from Jerome. Ch. VI * ^ Bacchus, Francis. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Saint Paul the Hermit". Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2013-01-04. * ^ "The Golden Legend: The Life of Anthony of Egypt". Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-04. * ^ The Essential Writings of Christian
Mysticism, Bernhart McGinn ISBN 0-8129-7421-2 * ^ "Quirinus von Rom" (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2012. * ^ "Coptic Literature". Retrieved 2013-01-04.


* Baynes, T.S., ed. (1878), "Saint Anthony", Encyclopædia Britannica , 2 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 106 * Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Anthony, Saint", Encyclopædia Britannica , 2 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 96–97


Wikimedia Commons has media related to ANTHONY THE