Anthony of Egypt
Feast Day: January 17 (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox)
Feast Day: January 30 (Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholic)
The Church calls Anthony the father of monks. Before his time, many men and women went out into the desert to pray and do penance. These hermits lived alone, far apart from other people. Soon Anthony of Egypt formed a community—or monastery—of hermits. The monks spent most of their time alone, but they met each day to worship and to eat together.
Anthony formed his monastery in the Egyptian desert. He had been born of wealthy parents in Egypt in about 250 AD. When he was about 20, they died. Anthony then gave away all their money and walked deep into the desert. There he found God waiting for him.
As a hermit, Anthony ate little, prayed much, and fought the temptations of the devil to return to the city and its money. God granted him great wisdom, and so many people came to him for advice. Even emperors wrote letters to him and asked his opinion.
God taught Anthony through nature. Dusty sciroccos, stalking lions, and thorny acacia bushes all spoke to him of God’s love. Twice Anthony left the desert and walked to the big city of Alexandria. There he comforted Christians and taught people the truth about Jesus.
Back in the desert, someone began to collect Anthony’s words of wisdom. The book Sayings of the Father contains about 40 sayings of Anthony of Egypt. This man who found God in nature lived to be more than 100 years old and died in solitude. He is also known as Anthony of the Desert.