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Life of a Saint

Saint Anthony the Great (vegan): Venerated Hermit of the Desert, Part 2 of 2

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Around the year 305, He emerged from His solitary retreat full of the spirit and vitality of God. He was not troubled by the sight of crowds, nor was He overjoyed at being honored by so many. Saint Anthony guided His followers in developing spiritual discipline. They soon renounced all forms of comforts such as baths and rests. Their energies were focused on singing psalms, praying, fasting, and giving alms to the needy. All their thoughts and desires were reserved for God alone.

Despite living in solitude, Saint Anthony cared greatly for His brothers. When Christians were being persecuted in the year 311, He traveled to Alexandria to minister to those who had been detained and to support those who were on trial and being interrogated. When the persecution ended, He returned to the desert to continue living His pious life.

News of the famed Saint Anthony reached Constantine I, and the emperor wrote to Him, offering praise and requesting His prayers. Saint Anthony paid it no attention; however, the brethren were pleased by the emperor’s letter, believing that, “Emperor Constantine loves the church.” They insisted Saint Anthony reply, so He wrote a letter to the emperor and his son saying “not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.”

There is a story about how Saint Anthony healed a pig-person, who became His friend and would follow Him everywhere. This was how the legend of Saint Anthony as protector of the animal-people began.

Saint Anthony the Great passed away in 356, at the age of 105, and was buried in the desert by two disciples, Macarius and Amatas. They kept His grave a secret per Saint Anthony’s special request, lest His body become an object of worship. Before His death, the Saint had instructed His disciples to preserve the Orthodox Faith in its purity and to be diligent in their monastic life, saying: “Strive to be united first with the Lord, and then the saints, so that after death they may receive you as familiar friends into the everlasting dwellings.”

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