This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17 -- St. Anthony of Egypt

Anthony is the father of western monasticism. He lived for about fifteen years in a small community of anchorites, and then moved into the Egyptian desert, barricading himself in an abandoned fort so that he might live and pray in solitude. Folks kept breaking in, asking to be permitted to consult with him or even live with him. Eventually, he established to monasteries nearby. They sustained themselves by making baskets and brushes for sale, so he became known as the patron of those trades, as well as a long list of other things. He is, for example, the patron of pig and of swineherds, even though the representation of him with a pig was meant to signify his ability to cure skin diseases with prayer (pork fat was a common remedy).

Around age sixty, he left the relative solitude of his fort for the teeming streets of Alexandria. He had two missions in mind. First, the heresy of Arianism was growing in popularity and he wanted to speak up against it. Second, one of the Roman imperial persecutions of Christians was under way and he wanted to comfort the survivors. He walked into the city wearing the white wool tunic that plainly identified him as a Christian, went about his preaching and visiting, and then returned to the desert without incident. His defense of (what would become) orthodox Christian doctrine had a lasting effect on the debate, though Arianism continued to grow in popularity.

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