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
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.