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Saint Anthony the Great, an Egyptian, was born in a.d. 250, and was the first person in the Christian Church to live the distinctly monastic life. He heard the call from Christ when he was young, hearing the story of the rich young man called to sell what he had, give to the poor, and follow Him. Saint Anthony lived in a tomb where he faced many diabolical temptations, and later up on a mountain in the Western Desert of Egypt. He holds a shepherd’s staff of an abbot and a prayer rope for the Jesus Prayer in this icon, and several scenes from his life surround his central figure.
Because of his excellent life and spiritual stature many who met him joined this most excellent monastic life with zeal, either near him, or in other monasteries inspired by such ideals. Saint Athanasios the Great met Saint Anthony and treasured him. When Saint Anthony died in great old age in a.d. 356, Saint Athanasios wrote his life, which created a great flood of young men and women following this shining example of dedication and love, and gave themselves up to enter the narrow but holy gates of monasticism. Saint Anthony is called the “Father of Monks” to this day.
|Church Feast Day 1
Private Collection, Netherlands
18th c. (Early)