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
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.