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Christian Saints

St. Anthony of Egypt

(251-356)

St. Anthony of Egypt, abbot, was born in Coma, Upper Egypt. While still young he got rid of all his possessions and lived among the local ascetics, and then withdrew into the desert, where he lived in complete solitude and was repeatedly tempted by the devil. Remaining steadfast, he attracted a number of disciples to a hermit's life in the desert and a small monastery was formed at the place. From there he, in 311, went to Alexandria to encourage the confessors during the persecution of the Emperor Maximinus Daia (emperor in the east 310-313).
St. Anthony was reputed to be a miracle-maker and many were converted by him. His surviving works include a letter to the Emperor Constantine and  several ones to different monasteries. In St. Jerome's account of the life of St. Paul the Hermit, there is a description of the meeting of the two hermits, Paul and Anthony in the desert, and the episode found its reflection in fine arts.
Anthony lived a long and righteous life and died at the age of 105. In 561 his relics were transferred to Alexandria, and much later, they were claimed by Constantinople and by La Motte, where the Order of Hospitallers of Saint Anthony was founded c. 1100. The hospitallers wore black robes with a blue Tau-cross; they used to ride about ringing little bells to attract alms; those little bells were also put on animals' necks, often pigs, to protect them from disease. These hospitallers' attributes  found their reflection in St. Anthony's iconography: he is generally represented as an old man wearing the black habit, carrying a cross in the shape of a T and, occasionally, a little bell, and accompanied by a pig.
Feast day: 17 January.

See: Hieronymus Bosch Temptation of St. Anthony, Flight and Failure of St. Anthony, St. Anthony at Meditation, Temptation of St. Anthony.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder or his follower. The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Paul Cézanne. Temptation of St. Anthony.
Salvador Dalí. The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Giorgione Madonna and Child with St. Anthony and St. Roch.
Francisco de Goya. The Miracle of St. Anthony.
Matthias Grünewald St. Anthony Visiting St. Paul the Hermit in the Desert, The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Filippino Lippi Madonna and Child with St. Anthony and a Monk.
Pontormo. St. Anthony Abbot.
Martin Schongauer. Nativity and St. Anthony. The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. Temptation of Saint Anthony.
Diego Velázquez. St. Anthony Abbot and St. Paul the Hermit.
Paolo Veronese. Temptation of Saint Anthony.
Francisco de Zurbarán St. Anthony Abbot.

Recommended reading:
The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Modern Library Classics) by Gustave Flaubert, Lafcadio Hearn (Translator), Michel Foucault (Introduction), Marshall C. Olds. Princeton Review, 2002.
The Coptic Life of Antony by Athanasius, Tim Vivian (Translator). International Scholars Publications, 1994.
The Golden Legend by Jacobus De Voragine, William Granger Ryan (Translator). Princeton Univ Pr, 1995.
 

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