A Saint of the Day for Jan.17

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ANTHONY OF EGYPT, ABBOT

Anthony (also Antony) of Egypt (251–356) is generally regarded as the founder of monasticism. Born in Upper Egypt of a prosperous landowning family, at about the age of twenty, following his parents’ deaths, he sold all of his possessions and gave the money to the poor in keeping with the Gospel injunction in Matthew 19:21. He took up the life of a hermit, first near his home under the tutelage of an elderly hermit; then for twelve to fi fteen years he lived in empty tombs in a cemetery at some distance from his village, and later still in an abandoned fort deep in the desert (286–306). He eventually attracted many disciples and established his first monastery, which was actually a collection of hermits’ cells. Athanasius’s Life of Antony made him a well-known figure, “the father of monks.” Anthony’s feast is on the General Roman Calendar and is also celebrated on this day by the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches.

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