A Garner of Saints – Saint Anthony the Hermit

illustration of Saint Anthony the Hermit from 'A Garner of Saints', 1900, artist unknownArticle

Usually called Anthony the Abbot. Born in 251, near Heraclea, in Upper Egypt, of rich and noble parents. At the age of twenty he sold all his goods and gave them to the poor, reserving only what was necessary for his own subsistence and that of his sister. He then retired to the desert, dividing his time between prayer, manual labour and reading. He also went to visit every recluse of whom he heard, and learning by a vision that there was a holier man than himself, he went to search for him through the woods. After meeting a centaur and a satyr, he was led by a wolf to the cell of the hermit Paul. The latter refused at first to receive him, and closed his door, but Anthony declared that he would never depart, but would remain there until he died, if need were. At length Paul relented, and when he had opened the door they embraced and became fast friends. At their first meal a raven brought a supply for each, and Paul explained that he had been nourished in this manner from the first. Their humility was so great that they disputed as to who should break bread first. After a while Anthony went out, and on his return he saw the angels taking his companion’s soul to heaven. On entering the cell he found Paul dead, but still on his knees as if at prayer. He had no means of burying the holy man, but two lions came to the spot, dug a grave, and then retumed to the forest. Left to himself, Anthony was subjected to a series of violent assaults by the devil, who beat him and appeared to him in various forms of animals and human beings to tear him and tempt him in various ways. At length Christ appeared to him in glory, and drove away the devils. “Why did you not come before to help me and to heal my wounds?” cried Anthony. “I was there,” answered the Christ, “but I waited to see your resistance; you have fought well, and I will give you great renown through all the world.” Anthony was so zealous that when the Emperor Maximian persecuted the Christians, he followed the martyrs in the hope of sharing their fate, and was vexed when he escaped. He died in the arms of his disciples at the age of 105 in the year 356. 17th January.

Attributes

  • Dressed as a hermit, with crutch and bell and a T on his clothes; frequently represented with a hog beside him; also with demons.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Anthony the Hermit”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 April 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. <>