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St Anthony the Great is considered to be the father of all monks.He was born in Egypt in the year 260AD and after the death of his parents he sold all he had and went off to seek solitude in the desert.
St Anthony had a younger sister and he made arrangements for members of his extended family to look after her.
Although Anthony chose to live a life of solitude he did not turn his back on the world. He gave relief and help to those who were trying to escape the persecution of the emperor Diocletian.
Large crowds of people went out into the desert to seek his advice and many followers grew up around him. Anthony was also sound in his doctrine. He was alive during the first 40 years of the Arian heresy, which raged in the church for about two hundred years.
The Arian heresy says that Jesus is not truly god but is a creature like the rest of us. Anthony helped St Athanasius of Alexandria in his fight against Arianism.
In the desert Anthony lived a life of great austerity and penance. His fasts and keeping of vigils were legendary. In time fantastic stories of his battles with demons grew up. However, what Anthony is important for is the founding of the monastic ideal and the living of a life of penance. This has continued down to modern times and is still a valuable part of the church's life.
His hard life did not stop him living to 105. That must have been a marvelous age to achieve at that time. His life of self control and austerity is an example to everyone.