Sunday, January 17, 2010

St. Anthony, Abbot

Painting of St. Anthony by Francisco de Zurburan

Also Known As: Anthony of Egypt; Anthony the Great; Father of Cenobites; Father of Western Monasticism
Born: ca.251, Herakleopolis Magna, Egypt

Died: 356, Mount Colzim, Egypt

Major shrine: Monastery of Saint Anthony, Vienna, Austria
His body was at Saint-Antoine l'Abbaye, Isère, France

Feast: January 17
Symbolism: bell; pig; book; crutch; hermit; Saint Anthony's cross; tau cross with a bell on the end. Iconographically, Anthony is depicted in a monastic habit with a long white beard. Sometimes he holds an abbot's crozier or a scroll

Patronage: against pestilence; amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; brushmakers; Burgio, Sicily; butchers; Canas, Brazil; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; ergotism (Saint Anthony's fire); erysipelas; gravediggers; graveyards; hermits; hogs; Hospitallers; Lost items ; monks; Mook, Nederlands; pigs; relief from pestilence; shingles; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherds (See here for St. Anthony's connection to pigs.)

Five of the demons that tempted St. Anthony.

* For a coloring page (though perhaps a bit of a disturbing one), click on the above engraving  by Martin Schongauer for a larger image, then copy and print .  Go here to see a young Michelangelo's rendition of this engraving, and a number of links can be found here exploring the the theme of the "temptation of St. Anthony" in art.

* Tales of St. Anthony (from Wikipedia)

The Satyr and the Centaur

Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find Saint Paul. Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to a vision, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his predecessor, Saint Paul. On his way there he ran into two demons in the forms of a centaur and a satyr. Many works of art depict Saint Anthony meeting with this centaur and satyr. Western theology considers these demons to have been temptations. At any rate, he was stopped by these demons and asked, "Who are you?" To that the satyr replied, "I am a corpse, one of those whom the heathen calls satyrs, and by them were snared into idolatry." The satyr then tried to terrify the saint while the centaur acknowledged the overthrow of the gods. In the end, the centaur tried to show Saint Anthony the way to his destination while the satyr ended up asking for Saint Anthony's blessing.

Silver and Gold
Another time Saint Anthony was traveling in the desert he found a plate of silver coins in his path. He pondered for a moment as to why a plate of silver coins would be out in the desert where no one else travels. Then he realized the devil must have laid it out there to tempt him. To that he said, "Ha! Devil, thou weenest to tempt me and deceive me, but it shall not be in thy power." Once he said this, the plate of silver vanished. Saint Anthony continued walking along and saw a pile of gold in his way which the devil had laid there to deceive him. Saint Anthony cast the pile of gold into a fire, and it vanished just like the silver coins did. After these events, Saint Anthony had a vision where the whole world was full of snares and traps. He cried to the Lord, "Oh good Lord, who may escape from these snares?" A voice said back to him, "humility shall escape them without more."
Demons in the Cave
One time Saint Anthony tried hiding in a cave to escape the demons that plagued him. There were so many little demons in the cave though that Saint Anthony's servant had to carry him out because they had beaten him to death. When the hermits were gathered to Saint Anthony's corpse to mourn his death, Saint Anthony was revived. He demanded that his servants take him back to that cave where the demons had beaten him. When he got there he called out to the demons, and they came back as wild beasts to rip him to shreds. All of a sudden a bright light flashed, and the demons ran away. Saint Anthony knew that the light must have come from God, and he asked God where was he before when the demons attacked him. God replied, "I was here but I would see and abide to see thy battle, and because thou hast manly fought and well maintained thy battle, I shall make thy name to be spread through all the world."

* The complete life of St. Anthony, from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
* Recipes for the day:  St. Antony of the Desert, vegetable soup and, as a nod to our saint's association with pork, Potato and Porkchop Casserole. (Both from Catholic Cuisine)