Saint Anthony the Great
Feast Day - January 17
“Wherever you find yourself, do not go forth from that place too quickly. Try to be patient and learn to stay in one place.” – St. Anthony the Great
Saint Anthony was a Christian monk from Egypt. He was known as the “Father of All Monks”. Anthony’s parents both died when he was only eight-teen years old. They were wealthy and left all their money and possessions to Anthony. Not long after they died Anthony heard a reading from the book of Matthew that changed his life. The passage he heard was where Jesus tells a man who is rich, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor.” Anthony felt God speaking to him through this passage, and went to do what God instructed. He sold about 300 acres of land, and gave most of his money to the poor keeping very little for his sister. He sent his sister to live with a community of virgins so he could be free to learn about spirituality, prayer, and fasting.
He eventually set out on his own into the western desert. His task was to become a lover of God by resisting the Devil and being submissive only to Christ. Anthony lived in a tomb in boredom where he was continuously attacked by demons physically and mentally. He learned that he had to keep his hands busy with work to escape temptations. The demons left when God’s presence came forth. Anthony asked God why he left him to fight the battle alone and God said although he was there the whole time, he waited to see the saint fight.
The next time Anthony fled, he went and lived in an abandoned Roman fort and stayed there for twenty years fighting a solitary battle. When he surfaced from the fort he became a symbol of strength and wisdom. People came to him from all parts of the world seeking relief for the body, mind and soul. Monks came to him for his sympathy and advice and at age fifty-five he founded his first monastery for the monks. It consisted of scattered cells where the monks lived in isolation. He established more monasteries but did not stay at any of them for a long period of time. To keep from having interruptions in his life of solitude, he only visited them occasionally.
Saint Anthony died at the age of one hundred and five. Before his death, he ordered his companions to bury his body without a marker and never reveal his burial spot. His life encourages all Christians to resist temptation and not let their hands be idle. To have a strong work ethic by having a strong faith. Anthony became the patron saint of amputees, animals, basket makers, butchers, cemetery workers, and domestic animals.
A few quotes recorded to have been said by Saint Anthony:
“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad; you are not like us.”
“God, in his mercy, reminds every one of the means of the grace given to him. So never lose heart or be lazy, my children, in crying to the Lord night and day, that you may force the Father’s benevolence to grant you aid from above.”
“Who sits in solitude and is quiet hath escaped from three wars; hearing, speaking, seeing: yet against one thing shall he continually battle: that is, his own heart.”