at prayer

St. Anthony
St Anthony
Feast Day 13 January
Died 356 AD

Saint Anthony was born in 251 AD in Egypt of very pious parents. On their death, when he was eighteen, he became a hermit. Fasting, praying and meditating to overcome temptations, he would force himself to remain awake for days on end, eating little. When he was thirty-five, seeking even further asceticism, he set off for the desert where he barricaded himself in an old fort. As his fame spread, other came to join and imitate him. He eventually founded two monasteries and is known as the father of Christian monasticism. He met St Paul the Hermit and later buried him, hence his patronage of gravediggers.

Representations of St Anthony often show him accompanied by a pig, possibly as a symbol of his victory over gluttony. Attempts are made to associate it with ergotism or St Anthony’s fire which people once thought could be cured by the application of bacon fat.

Be that as it may, by the Middle Ages, the Order of St Anthony was providing care for those stricken by this ailment, which took the form of gangrene with a burning pain in the extremities or as convulsions with psychosis followed by death, and St Anthony was their patron saint.

He is also the patron saint of amputees, hogs and other animals.