Icon of St. Anthony the Great (Novgorod, 16th c.) – S355


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Church Feast Day 1



Egg Tempera


Rumjancev Collection, Russian State Library, Moscow, Russia




16th c. (Mid)


St. Anthony the Great, an Egyptian, was born in a.d. 250.  He was the first person in the Christian Church to live the distinctly monastic life, and became a hermit.  He heeded the call from Christ when he was young, hearing the story of the rich young man called to sell what he had, give to the poor, and follow Him.   St. Anthony lived in a tomb, and later up on a mountain in the Western Desert of Egypt, where there is still a monastery dedicated to his memory today.  In this icon he is seen in a striking detail of his head, surrounded by the monastic cowl.

Because of his excellent life and spiritual stature many who met him joined this most excellent monastic life with zeal, either near him, or in other monasteries inspired by such ideals.   St. Athanasios the Great met St. Anthony and treasured him.  When St. Anthony died in great old age in a.d. 356, St. Athanasios wrote his life, which created a great flood of young men and women following this shining example of dedication and love, giving themselves up to enter the narrow but holy gates of monasticism.  St. Anthony is called the “Father of Monks” to this day.