St. Athanasius

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St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria

St. Athanasius, the great Doctor of the Church, and intrepid defender of the Catholic faith, was born. at Alexandria, the Capital of Egypt, in the year of our Lord 294. His parents, who belonged to the nobility, were also God-fearing people, and Athanasius was gifted by the Almighty with such great talents, that when still very young in years, he had already made unusual progress in sacred as well as profane science. He was, however, not less assiduous in the practice of virtue and piety than he was in his studies. Desirous of leading a holy life he went to the hermit Anthony, and remained two years under him. He would probably never have left him, had not Alexander, the Patriarch of Alexandria, recalled him to the city, that he might aid him against the heretics, which he faithfully did. The Patriarch made St. Athanasius his companion to the celebrated Council of Nice, where, although he was at that time only deacon, he refuted the Arian heresy so thoroughly, that all present admired his skill and erudition. This, however, drew upon him the hatred of the Arians to such a degree, that until his death they regarded him as their worst enemy, and persecuted him in all possible ways. Shortly before the death of St. Alexander he left the city secretly, fearing that he might be chosen as his successor. The Patriarch, informed of this, said with prophetic inspiration: “Athanasius, Athanasius, you think to save yourself by flight; but it will not release you from the Patriarchal Chair.” After the death of St. Alexander, neither the clergy nor the people would have any other patriarch than Athanasius. For six months they searched everywhere for him, and at length, when he was found, he yielded with many tears to the general wish. Experience showed that his election as Patriarch was really ordained by God for the welfare of the faithful. He proved himself a watchful shepherd over his flock, as well as a kind father to the poor. There was hardly a place in his large diocese which he did not visit yearly, and everywhere he frequently preached. In his own life he was very austere and kept a rigorous fast. Continue reading