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St. Anthony the Great - Feast Day January 17th

An icon of St. Anthony the Great.

Saint Anthony was born about 250. After the death of his noble parents in his native Egypt when he was 18, Anthony assured his sister's financial future from their large inheritance and then gave away his half of the inheritance, consecrating himself to a dedicated life of asceticism.

Seeking solitude, he spent 20 years in the desert on the shores of the Red Sea alone with God in continual prayer, patiently undergoing inexpressible demonic temptations. His fame spread and soon he was sought by many desiring salvation and teaching. During the next 85 years he returned only twice to Alexandria. Once to seek matrydom during a time of Church persecution, and the other at the invitation of St. Athanasius to refute the slanderous allegations that he was a follower of heresy. St. Anthony's elequent defense of the Orthodox belief in Christ as true God earned him the title of St. Anthony the Great.

Though not formally educated, he was one of the most learned men of his age. When philosophers tried to test St Anthony his answers astounded them and they dispersed, realizing that they had only book-learning without understanding, while St. Anthony had understanding.

St. Anthony taught, "Learn to desire humility, for that will cover all your sins. All sin is hatful to God, but the most hateful of all is pride of heart. Do not consider yourself learned or wise, or all your toil will be lost and your ship will arrive empty at the shore."

St. Anthony established a chain of monasteries attracting hundreds of monks to aceticism and greatly furthering the Christian Faith. He is considered the "patriarch" of monastic life and is honored each January 17th. For 85 years Saint Anthony worked toward self-perfection that he might perfect others. At the age of 105, St. Anthony entered into rest in the Lord in the year 356.

From the Icon Collection of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.

For a description of this icon and the troparion and kontakion for this saint please click here