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St. Anthony of the Desert (Anthony of Egypt)

Saint Anthony was born in the year 251, in Upper Egypt. Hearing at Mass the words, If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, he gave away all his vast possessions staying only to see that his sister's education was completed and retired into the desert. He then begged an aged hermit to teach him the spiritual life, and he also visited various solitaries, undertaking to copy the principal virtue of each.

The devils assaulted him furiously, appearing as various monsters, and even wounding him severely; but his courage never failed, and he overcame them all by confidence in God and by the sign of the cross. One night, while Anthony was in his solitude, many devils scourged him so terribly that he lay as if dead. A friend found him in this condition, and believing him dead carried him home. But when Anthony came to himself he persuaded his friend to take him back, in spite of his wounds, to his solitude. Here, prostrate from weakness, he defied the devils, saying, I fear you not; you cannot separate me from the love of Christ. After more vain assaults the devils fled, and Christ appeared to Anthony in His glory.

Saint Anthony's only food was bread and water, which he never tasted before sunset, and sometimes only once in two, three, or four days. He wore sackcloth and sheepskin, and he often knelt in prayer from sunset to sunrise.

His admirers became so many and so insistent that he was eventually persuaded to found two monasteries for them and to give them a rule of life. These were the first monasteries ever to be founded, and Saint Anthony is, therefore, the father of monks. He died in the year 356.

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With a new translation of the Rule of St. Benedict
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