Anthony, Sr.

, the institutor of monastic life, was torn in Egypt, in the year 251. Having understood some passages in our Saviour’s precepts in their literal sense, he disposed of a large property which he inherited, divided the produce among the poor, and retired from the world, to a solitude where he is said to have been tempted by the devil in a great variety of shapes, stories which are too absurd to be now revived. It is added, however, that for | twenty years resistance, Anthony received the gift of miracles; a vast number of disciples began now to crowd about him, and he was obliged to erect many monasteries in the desert to which he had retired. Here his followers passed their time in prayer, and other acts of devotion, and in manual labour, and were encouraged and supported by the example and precepts he gave of mortification and humility. He is said to have quitted this retreat only twice; once during the persecution under Maximinus in the year 312, when he endeavoured to assist the Christians who were then suffering martyrdom for the gospel: and a second time, in the year 335, at the request of St. Athanasius, when his object was to defend the faith against the Arians, who had accused him of being of their opinion. When at Alexandria, all the city came out to see him; even the Pagans crowded to touch him, and he converted many of them to Christianity. Constantine and his family wrote to him as to a father, and expressed their fervent desire to be favoured with his correspondence, which he complied with. He was frequently visited by the Pagan philosophers, some of whom endeavoured to perplex him by arguments against Christianity, but he constantly re-f futed them, and maintained the superiority of that religion over Paganism. His death is fixed on the 17th of January, in the year 356, in the 105th year of his age. Much superstitious regard was paid tq his body, which is said to have been transported into Vienne, in Dauphiny, in the eleventh century. There are seven letters of his extant in the tybl. Patrum, His life was written by St. Atha11 as ins,

Tradition has connected the name of St. Anthony with that of a very painful disorder, the erysipelas. Hence he is sometimes represented with a fire by his side, signifying that he relieves persons from the inflammation called by his name; but he is always accompanied by a hog, on account of his having cured the disorders of that animal. To do him the greater honour, the Romanists in several places keep at common charges a hog denominated St. Anthony’s hog (whence qur vulgarism of Tantony pig) for which they have great veneration. Some have St. Anthony’s picture on the walls of their houses, hoping by that to be preserved from the plague: and the Italians, who do not know the true signification of the fire painted at the side of them, conclude that he preserves houses from being burnt, | and invoke him on such occasions. In 1095, an order of religious was founded in France, called the order of St. Anthony, the members of which were to take care of persons afflicted with St. Anthony’s fire. 1

1

Moreri, Milner’s Church Hist. vol. I. p. 594. Cstc, vol. I. —Saxii Onomasticon.