Tuesday, January 17, 2006
St. Anthony of Egypt

Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 17
Double (1954 Calendar): January 17

Today is the feastday of St. Anthony of Egypt (251-356). After the death of his parents, St. Anthony, only 20 years old, left the world and its riches after hearing the Gospel: “Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor” (Mark 10:21). St. Anthony sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned, and he gave the proceeds to the poor. He joined the anchorites who lived nearby. At age 35 he moved alone to the desert and lived for 20 years in an abandoned fort.

Although he barricaded himself inside in order to achieve solitude, admirers broke in. St. Anthony miraculously healed people while agreeing to be the spiritual counselor of others. He also founded two monasteries on the Nile: one at Pispir, one at Arsinoe. In 311 AD, he left his solitude in order to combat Arianism and comfort the victims of Emperor Maximinus' persecution. While there, he again met his sister, who had also left the world and lived as a nun.

St. Anthony was modest and courteous. He died in solitude in 356 AD at Mount Colzim of natural causes at the age of 105; his relics are located near Vienne.


May the intercession of blessed Anthony the Abbot commend us unto Thee, we beseech Thee, O Lord: so that what we cannot acquire by any merits of ours, we may obtain by his patronage. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Traditional Matins Reading:

Antony was born in Egypt, of noble and Christian parents, who left him an orphan at an early age. Having one day entered a Church, he heard these words of the Gospel being read: If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all thou hast, and give to the poor. He took them as addressed to himself, and thought it his duty to obey these words of Christ his Lord. Selling therefore his possessions, he distributed all the money among the poor. Being freed from these obstacles, he resolved to lead on earth a heavenly life. But at his entrance on the perils of such a combat, he felt that besides the shield of faith, wherewith he was armed, he must needs fortify himself with the other virtues; and so ardent was his desire to possess them, that whomsoever he saw excelling in any virtue, him did he study to imitate.

Nothing, therefore, could exceed his continency and vigilance. He surpassed all in patience, meekness, mercy, humility, manual labour, and the study of the Sacred Scriptures. So great was his aversion for the company of, or conversation with, heretics, especially the Arians, that he used to say that we ought not even to go near them. He lay on the ground when necessity obliged him to sleep. As to fasting, he practised it with so much fervour that his only nourishment was bread seasoned with salt, and he quenched his thirst with water; neither did he take this his food and drink until sunset, and frequently abstained from it altogether for two successive days. He very frequently spent the whole night in prayer. Antony became so valiant a soldier of God that the enemy of mankind, ill-brooking such extraordinary virtue, attacked him with manifold temptations; but the Saint overcame them all by fasting and prayer. Neither did his victories over Satan make him heedless, for he knew how innumerable are the devil’s artifices for injuring souls.

Knowing this, he betook himself into one of the largest deserts of Egypt, where such was his progress in Christian perfection that the wicked spirits, whose attacks grew more furious as Antony’s resistance grew more resolute, became the object of his contempt, so much so indeed, that he would sometimes taunt them for their weakness. When encouraging his disciples to fight against the devil, and teaching them the arms wherewith they would vanquish him, he used often to say to them: 'Believe me, Brethren, Satan dreads the watchings of holy men, and their prayers, and fasts, and voluntary poverty, and works of mercy, and humility, and above all, their ardent love for Christ our Lord, at the mere sign of whose most holy Cross he is disabled and put to flight.' So formidable was he to the devils that many persons in Egypt who were possessed by them were delivered by invoking Antony's name. So great. too, was his reputation for sanctity, that Constantine the Great and his sons wrote to him, commending themselves to his prayers. At length, having reached the hundred and fifth year of his age, and having received a countless number into his institute, he called his Monks together; and having instructed them how to regulate their lives according to Christian perfection, he, venerated both for the miracles he had wrought, and for the holiness of his life, departed from this world to heaven on the sixteenth of the Calends of February (January 17).

St. Anthony Receives His Vocation by St. Athanasius:

When Anthony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him with an only sister. He cared for her as she was very young, and also looked after their home.

Not six months after his parents’ death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Saviour, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor – you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.

It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about 200 acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would cause no distraction to his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, giving to the poor the considerable sum of money he collected. However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.

The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Without a moment’s hesitation, he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known and trustworthy virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then he gave himself up to the ascetic life, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practised great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.

Having learned that we should always be praying, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed without ceasing. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books.

Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the good men he knew called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.

3 comment(s):

del_button January 17, 2006 at 3:07 PM
antonia said...

hi there! I have just come across your blog!
God Bless you! :-)

May I link you from my blog?

Love & prayers,
your sister in Christ,

del_button April 13, 2008 at 8:10 AM
adrianhughes said...

I wish you well in your vocation.
The Tridentine Mass is celebrated at 3pm at the Church of St Anthony of Egypt on Scotland Rd in Liverpool every Sunday.
The Church is one of the oldest post Reformation Catholic churches in England. Sadly there was a minor fire last week, I am hoping the damage can be repaired very soon.

del_button April 13, 2008 at 8:10 AM
adrianhughes said...

I wish you well in your vocation.
The Tridentine Mass is celebrated at 3pm at the Church of St Anthony of Egypt on Scotland Rd in Liverpool every Sunday.
The Church is one of the oldest post Reformation Catholic churches in England. Sadly there was a minor fire last week, I am hoping the damage can be repaired very soon.

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