Anthony, born in 251 AD in Coma, Egypt, to affluent landowner parents, faced early loss as both his parents passed away when he was just twenty.
Inheriting wealth and responsible for an unmarried sister, Anthony felt a deep calling to fulfill the teachings of the Lord: “if thou will be perfect, go, sell what thou has and give to the poor.” Demonstrating his commitment, he generously distributed all his possessions while still a young man.
Despite being illiterate, Anthony was a profoundly holy individual with a direct connection to Divine Truth. Seeking guidance on living a holy life, he sought the mentorship of an old hermit. Emulating the examples of various hermits, he eventually retreated into the desert, embracing the solitary life of a hermit for many years, dedicating himself to prayer and penance.
Over a span of more than two decades, Anthony faced relentless temptations from the devil, often disguised as alluring women. Through unwavering prayer and sacrifice, he consistently triumphed over these trials. The devil, however, persisted, inflicting boredom, laziness, and illusions of women upon Anthony. Yet, his resilience and devotion to prayer allowed him to overcome these challenges.
Seeking even greater solitude, Anthony moved to an old tomb near his village, where the devil continued his onslaught, this time using demons in the form of wild beasts. Despite enduring heavy blows that left him nearly dead, Anthony remained steadfast.
Known for his holiness, many sought Anthony’s advice, prompting him to reluctantly guide them in virtue. This eventually led to the establishment of the very first monastery, earning him the titles “Father of Monastic Life” and the “Patriarch of Monks.”
Even as his reputation grew, Anthony retreated further into the desert, living a life of hard work and prayer. St Athanasius, who documented Anthony’s life, emphasized that merely learning about Anthony’s virtuous lifestyle serves as a guide to virtue.
In 305 AD, sensing his impending death, Anthony founded a religious community of hermits dwelling in separate cells. As he approached the age of one hundred and five, Anthony, aware of his imminent demise, entrusted his staff to St. Macarius of Egypt before peacefully passing away in 356 AD.