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Saint Anthony Abbot

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Lived 251 - 356
Rank and group: Hermit
Feast day: 17 January
Patron saint: Basket-makers
Attributes: Pig, T-shaped staff, bell

Anthony Abbot is the most famous of the Desert Fathers, but his time in the desert was fraught with hallucinations (machinations of the devil), lack of food and lack of sleep.

Hallucinations of Naked Women

Saint Anthony saw beautiful, naked women surrounding him.

Paul the Hermit

Saint Anthony began to get prideful and consider himself the greatest saint in the desert. A heavenly voice cautioned him, "No, there is a greater." Anthony set out to find him, and the greater saint was Paul the Hermit. When these two old men finally met, they were so glad to see somebody even more than the other did -- they simply fell into each other's arms and hugged and kissed. Each day a raven brought Paul the Hermit half a loaf of broad, but on the day that Paul and Anthony were together, the raven brought a whole loaf. The two broke bread together, friendly to one another, reflecting how being a friend is part of being a saint no matter how isolated a lifestyle one chooses.

Taming the Pig

A pig, inhabited by the devil, followed around Anthony -- but he tamed it into a little piglet friend.

Prayer without Ceasing

Anthony interpreted literally that he should pray without ceasing, until an angel told him to work as well since man can pray always but in different ways. Anthony pointed out that there was no work in the desert, and the angel tartly told him to climb a palm tree, collect the leaves and weave them into mats.