Anthony

Anthony St., the patriarch of Coenobites, and virtual founder of monasticism, was born A.D. 251, at Coma, in Egypt. His parents left him large possessions, but the words of our Lord to the rich young Tuler so impressed his mind that he sold his possessions, gave the money to the poor, and retired into the desert, where he led an ascetic life. For more than twenty years, tried with various temptations, he dwelt apart, first in a cave, and then in a ruined house, having no communication with mankind but by a messenger, who brought him the necessaries of life. The fame of his sanctity attracted crowds of disciples, and he left his solitude to gather them into a fraternity. At the time of his death they numbered 15,000. He was visited by heathen philosophers, and Constantine the Greatwrote to him, entreating his prayers. "Only in exceptional cases did Anthony leave his solitude, and then he made a powerful impression on both Christians and heathens with his hairy dress and his emaciated, ghost-like form. In the year 311, during the persecution under Maximinus, he appeared in Alexandria, in the hope of himself gaining the martyr's crown. He visited the confessors in the mines and prisons, encouraged them before the tribunal, accompanied them to the scaffold; but no one ventured to lay hands on the saint of the wilderness. In the year 351, when a hundred years old, he showed himself for the second and last time in the metropolis of Egypt to bear witness for the orthodox faith of his friend Athanasius against Arianism, and in a few days converted more heathen and heretics than had otherwise been gained in a whole year. He declared the Arian denial of the divinity of Christ worse than the venom of the serpent, and no better than heathenism, which worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. He would have nothing to do with heretics, and warned his disciples against intercourse with them. Athanasius attended him to the gate of the city, where he cast out an evil spirit from a girl. An invitation to stay longer in Alexandria he declined, saying, 'As a fish out of water, so a monk out of his solitude dies.' Imitating his example, the monks afterward forsook the wilderness in swarms whenever orthodoxy was in danger, and went in long processions, with wax tapers and responsive singing, through the streets, or appeared at the councils to contend for the orthodox faith with all the energy of fanaticism, often even with physical force" (Hook). In his last hours he retired to a mountain with two of his disciples, whom he desired to bury him like the patriarchs, and keep secret the place of his burial, thus rebuking the superstitious passion, for relics. His words are thus reported by Athanasius: "Do not let them carry my body into Egypt, lest they store it in their houses. One of my reasons for coming to this mountain was to hinder this. You know I have ever reproved those who have done this, and charged them to cease from the custom. Bury, then, my body in the earth, in obedience to my word, so that no one may know the place, except yourselves. In the resurrection of the dead it will be restored to me incorruptible by the Savior. Distribute my garments as follows: let Athanasius, the bishop, have the one sheepskin and the garment I sleep on, which he gave me new, and which has grown old with me. Let Serapion, the bishop, have the other sheepskin. As to the hair shirt, keep it for yourselves. And now, my children, farewell; Anthony is going, and is no longer with you." He died in 356, being one hundred and five years old, and unburdened by old age. His whole conduct indicates the predominance of a glowing and yet gloomy fancy, which is the proper condition of religious ascetism. Like many of the mystics, he affected to despise human science; one of his reported sayings is, "He who has a sound mind has no need of learning." At the same time, Athanasius states that he was a diligent student of the Scriptures. "The whole Nicene age venerated in Anthony a model saint. This fact brings out most characteristically the vast difference between the ancient and the modern, the old Catholic and the evangelical Protestant conception of the nature of Christian religion. The specifically Christian element in the life of Anthony, especially as measured by the Pauline standard, is very small. Nevertheless, we can but admire the miserable magnificence, the simple, rude grandeur of this hermit sanctity, even in its aberration. Anthony concealed under his sheepskin a child.like humility, an amiable simplicity, a rare energy of will, and a glowing love to God, which maintained itself for almost ninety years in the absence of all the comforts and pleasures of natural life, and triumphed over all the temptations of the flesh. By piety alone, without the help of education or learning, he became one of the most remarkable and influential men in the history of the ancient church. Even heathen contemporaries could not withhold from him their reverence, and the celebrated philosopher Synesius, afterward a bishop, before his conversion reckoned Anthony among those rare men in whom flashes of thought take the place of reasonings, and natural power of mind makes schooling needless" (Hook). Although the father of monachism, St. Anthony is not the author of any monastic "rules;" those which the monks of the Eastern schismatic sects attribute to him are the production of St. Basil. Accounts of his life and miracles are given in the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, under the date of the 17th of January, on which day his festival is kept. Many marvelous stories are told of him. The principal source of information concerning him is his life by Athanasius (Opera, vol. 1, ed. Benedict), which is supposed, however, to be much interpolated. On this biography Isaac Taylor remarks, "It may be read with edification, taken for just so much as it is worth; but as an exemplar of the Christian character one may find as good, nay, some much better, among the monkish records of the worst times of Romanism. In all these fifty-four pages, scarcely so much as one sentence meets the eye of a kind to recall any notions or sentiments which are distinctively Christian. There is indeed an unimpeachable orthodoxy and a thoroughgoing submissiveness in regard to church authority; and there is a plenty of Christianized sooffeeism, and there is more than enough of demonology, and quite enough of miracle, but barely a word concerning the propitiatory work of Christ; barely a word indicating any personal feeling of the ascetic's own need of that propitiation as the ground of his hope. Not a word of justification by faith; not a word of the gracious influence of the Spirit in renewing and cleansing the heart; not a word responding to any of those signal passages of Scripture which make the gospel 'glad tidings' to guilty man. Drop a very few phrases borrowed from the Scriptures, and substitute a few drawn from the Koran, and then this memoir of St. Anthony, by Athanasius, might serve, as to its temper, spirit, and substance, nearly as well for a Mohammedan dervish as for a Christian saint" (Taylor, Ancient Christianity, 1, 278). His seven epistles to the different monasteries in Egypt, translated out of the E:'yptian tongue into Greek, are given with the commnentaries of Dionysius the Carthusian upon Dionysius the Areopagite, printed at Cologne, 1536, and in the Eibl. Patrum, 4, 85. — Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 1, 468 sq.; Gieseler, Ch. Hist. 1, 172, 270; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2, 228 sq.; Butler, Lives of Saints, 1, 165; Newman, Church of the Fathers (Lond. 1842); Hook, Eccles. Biography, 1, 229; Schaff, in Meth. Quar. Rev. 1864, p. 29 sq.

ST. ANTHONY'S FIRE. — Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, gives the following account of the origin of this name: "In 1089 a pestilential erysipelatous distemper, called the sacred fire, swept off great numbers in most provinces of France; public prayers and processions were ordered against this scourge. At length it pleased God to grant many miraculous cures of this dreadful distemper to those who implored his mercy through the intercession of St. Anthony, especially before his relics; the church [of La Mothe St. Didier, near Vienne, in Dauphine] in which they were deposited was resorted to by great numbers of pilggrims, and his patronage was implored over the whole kingdom against this disease." The "order of Canons Regular of St. Anthony," a religious fraternity founded about 1090

for the relief of persons afflicted with the fire of St. Anthony, survived in France till 1790. SEE ANTHONY, ST., ORDER OF.

 
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