St. Anthony the Great, an Egyptian, was born in a.d. 250, and was the first person in the Christian Church to live the distinctly monastic life, and he became a hermit. He heard 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 went beyond just fulfilling the outward commandments. He lived in a tomb, and several places in the desert, finally ending up on a mountain in the Western Desert of Egypt, where there is still a monastery dedicated to his memory today.
Because of his excellent life and spiritual stature many who met him joined with zeal this most excellent monastic life, both near him, or in other new monasteries inspired by such ideals. St. Athanasios the Great met St. Anthony and treasured him, and 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 to follow this shining example of dedication and love and give themselves up to enter the narrow but holy gates of monasticism. St. Anthony is called the “Father of Monks” to this day.