Who is Saint Anthony The Great?
Our Patron Saint, Saint Anthony The Great, was born in Hellenized Egypt around 251 AD and reposed in 356 AD. He is also known as St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Anthony of the Desert. Having inherited his parent's sizable wealth, at age 20 after insuring his younger sister was taken care of, he took to heart Christ's admonition and sold all his remaining riches, gave all his wealth to the poor, and went in poverty into the desert to follow Christ, eventually living in solitude in a cave for many years. He is considered the Father of Christian monasticism, the first of the Desert Fathers of ancient Christianity. The asceticism (spiritual athleticism) St. Anthony taught to the other Desert Fathers is followed to this day at the same hermitage he founded some 1700 years ago located between the Nile and the Red Sea, Dayr Mārī Antonios. All Orthodox Christians, even though we are not monks and nuns in desert monasteries, seek to practice this asceticism of St. Anthony as best we can in our everyday lives.
St. Anthony was a fierce defender of our Trinitarian Faith and protected the Holy Church from the ancient heresy of Arianism, which falsely taught that Christ did not share in God the Father's nature. It is due to St. Anthony and other Church Fathers like him, that we have been Traditioned (handed down) the one True and Apostolic Faith.
Orthodox Christians believe what Scriptures clearly teach us (Psa. 141:2, Rev. 5:8, Rev. 8:3-4): that the Saints in Heaven are very much alive in Christ; they are active and are continually praying for Christians and Christ's Church; their prayers rise as incense before God's Heavenly Altar. We have a special relationship with St. Anthony the Great; as a Church, we ask for his protective prayers and intercessions on our behalf, exactly the same as we ask one another in our circle of family and friends to pray for us.
Troparion (hymn) in the 4th Tone:
"Thou didst become like the zealous Elija,
And didst follow John the Baptist in his upright ways.
As a dweller in the wilderness,
Thou didst steady the world by prayer.
Oh, Father Anthony, intercede with Christ our God
For our soul's salvation."