St. Athansius brought monastic life and convent life to Europe.

Monday, 5/2/16

In the year 310, Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, stopping on a ridge above the Mediterranean,  paused to watch the children at play on the beach. He was surprised to see that one of the boys was pretending to be a priest offering Mass. Amazed at the devotion and the accuracy of the boy’s wording, Bishop Alexander called him up, and went on the take over the education of young Athanasius.

In ten years, by 320, Athanasius had become the invaluable friend of Bishop Alexander, and it turned out that, as the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend n deed.”

In that same year of 320 Father Arius, a popular old pastor in Alexandria, had begun telling people that while Jesus was a wonderful man, he was not the Son of God. Bishop Alexander, hoping to do away with the disagreement, had all the priests in Egypt gather in a synod to point out Father Arius’s error. With Athanasius leading the opposition to the view pf Father Arius, the entire synod condemned his views.

That should have ended the matter, but Father Arius crossed over to Syria where he gathered a large number of priests who agreed with him in seeing Jesus as only a good man. That following came to be known as “Arians.”

Athanasius, at the death of Bishop Alexander, became the bishop of Alexandria. As such, he became the bishop to Anthony, a very saintly hermit who lived for fifty years in the Egyptian desert. And through those years he had attracted a number of male and female hermits who in time began coming together in our first monasteries and convents.

When Emperor Constantine died in 337, his son Constantius who followed him as emperor, became an Arian, and he banished Athanasius from Egypt. Taking refuge in Rome, Athanasius wrote an account of the life of Saint Anthony that inspired all of Europe to take up living in monastic communities.

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