Saint Anthony of Egypt
Patron Saint of Gravediggers, Feast Day: January 17
Saint Anthony is known as the patron saint of gravediggers.
Saint Anthony was born in Egypt in the year 251. His parents were wealthy Christians. They died when he was a young man, leaving him in charge of his younger sister and a large estate.
About six months later, he heard the Gospel 'Go sell what thou hast and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.' He decided that this Gospel was talking to him, so he gave away most of his land and money to the poor. He only kept enough to take care of himself and his sister. Later, when he heard the Gospel 'Be not solicitous for tomorrow' he gave away the rest of his estate, placed his sister in a convent, and became a hermit.
He lived in the wilderness for many years. The devil tempted and tormented him while he was living in the desert. But Saint Anthony persisted in his prayers and fasting, and finally Satan gave up and stopped attacking him.
Saint Anthony became famous. Many people visited him and asked him to guide them. So, he started a monastery at a place called Phaium and later another one near the Nile. He traveled to Alexandria when Christians were being persecuted by the Roman emperor Maximinus to serve and encourage the martyrs there. He also went to Alexandria another time to confront some heretics called Arians. He spoke and converted many people. For most of his life, though, he lived as a hermit, in seclusion.
When Saint Anthony was very old, and he knew he was going to die, he visited his disciples one last time and asked them to bury him in a quiet and private place. He went back to his cave, where he died on January 17, 356. He was one hundred and five years old.
Anthony was born in the village Koman, south of Memphis in upper Eygpt, in the year 251. His parents were wealthy Catholic land-owners, who raised him in the faith. When his parents died, the young man inherited their extensive lands and wealth, and the charge of his younger sister.
About six months after his parents died, he heard at Mass the Lord's instructions in the Gospel to "go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and thall shalt have treasure in heaven." Anthony took the message of these words to heart, and gave away his lands and money. He only kept what he thought was necessary to support his sister.
He soon after heard Christ's command, "be not solicitudinous of tomorrow." With those words he felt obliged to give away the rest of his estate, and placed his sister in a house of maidens. Most scholars consider this to be the first historical reference to a nunnery.
With his wealth gone, he moved to the desert in imitation of a hermit near his village. His isolation brought great virtue in humility and charity. He lived on bread and a bit of salt and ate after sunset. Satan frequently attacked the saint in spirit and body, often appearing in the form of a pig. In many countries today ham is the traditional meal on the feast of Saint Anthony. A friend who brought Anthony bread, found the saint beaten and near death from Satan's attacks.
In 285 he left the region of Koman, crossed the Nile and moved to the mountains. He stayed there for twenty years isolated from people. In 305, followers and admiriers persuaded him found a monastery at Fayum (Phaium). In 311, the Roman emperor Maximinus renewed the persecution of Christians. Anthony went to Alexandria to give courage to the martyrs. When this persecution ended, Anthony founded another monastery called Pispir near the Nile.
Some years later, Anthony returned to Alexandria. Saint Athanasius and others asked him to help them confront the heretic Arians there. With his mild and humble nature he converted many, and numerous miracles occurred.
Saint Jerome relates that Anthony met the blind catechist Didymus at Alexandria. Anthony told the sage to not to fret over his lack of sight, with eyes common even to insects, but rejoice over the sight shown by the light of Christ that dwells within him. Heathens came to listen and argue with the saint, and were astonished by his meekness and wisdom.
Anthony knew when he was going to die, and visited his monks, then retired with his two assistants, Marcarius and Amathas. He gave strict instructions that he be buried in secret. His instructions complete, he laid down and died. This was on the 17th of January, 356, when the saint being 105 years old.
Saint Anthony is revered in many countries. He is the patron saint of gravediggers and is also known to be helpful in the finding of lost objects.
Anthony was born in the village Koman, south of Memphis in upper Eygpt, in the year 251. His parents were Catholic, and to keep him away from the bad example of the pagan society in which they lived, kept him always at home. When his parents died, he was left with extensive lands and wealth, and the charge of his younger sister.
About six months after he had assumed control of his estate, he heard the Lord's instructions in the Gospel to "go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and thall shalt have treasure in heaven." Anthony took these words to refer to himself, and thus dispensed of his lands and gave to the poor all he had save what he needed to care for his sister.
He soon after heard Christ's command, "be not solicitudinous of tomorrow." With those words he felt obliged to give away the rest of his monies, and placed his sister in a house of maidens. This is thought to be the first mention, anywhere, of a nunnery.
With his wealth gone, he retired to the desert as a hermit. His isolation brought him great virtue in humility and charity. He lived on bread and a bit of salt, drank only water and ate after sunset, sometimes only every third or forth day. His holiness was a prime object for Satan, and the Evil One often physically manifested himself, attacking the saint in spirit and body.
In 285 he crossed the Nile and established himself in the mountains. He stayed there for twenty years in fasting and prayer, and had little contact except with the man that brought him bread every six months. In 305, he was persuaded to leave his strict isolation to found a monastery at Fayum (Phaium).
In 311, when Maximinus renewed the persecution of the faithful (see the Saint's Profile of Saint Lucy), Anthony went to Alexandria to give courage to the martyrs. The persecution finally abated, and Anthony founded another monastery called Pispir near the Nile. He then withdrew with an assistant, who would interview visitors, to a cave. Here Anthony tended a garden and made mats for alms.
In 355, Saint Athanasius and other bishops called Anthony out of seclusion to confront the Arians at Alexandria. He regarded the Arian no better or different from a pagan heathen, for in their error they worshiped a creature and not the creator. He converted many. Heathens came to the saint, and were astonished by his meekness and wisdom.
In 337 emperor Constantine and his two sons wrote to the saint asking him to pray for them. The monks were surprised at this letter, but Saint Anthony admonished them saying 'be surprised that God has written to us through His Son.' A maxim of the saint was that knowing ourselves is the only step we can take in order to ascend to the knowledge and love of God.
When Anthony knew when he was going to die, he visited his monks, then retired with his two assistants. He gave strict instructions that he be buried in secret. One of his sheepskins was to be sent to Athanasius as a sign of unity with the esteemed prelate. The other was given to bishop Serapion. He then bid his assistants goodbye, laid down and gave up his ghost. This was on the 17th of January, 356. The saint was 105 years old.
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