Today we honor St. Athanasius who lived in Egypt from 301 to 359. Athanasius was fourteen in the year 315, when Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity’s right to exist. From that year on, Bishop Alexander of Alexandria took in Athanasius, training him in the Scriptures.
Athanasius was nineteen in 320 when Father Arius, a respected pastor in Alexandria, began telling people that Jesus was only a good man, and not the unique Son of God. Bishop Alexander and the other pastors in Alexandria forced Father Arius to either change his message of leave Alexandria. That had Father Arius moving over to Phoenicia where he gained many followers, called Arians. They followed him n saying that Jesus was only a good man.
In 325, Emperor Constantine, unhappy over this split in Christianity, summoned all the bishops to Nicaea, where he forced them all to accept our Nicene Creed. However, after the Arian bishops got away from the emperor’s strong arms, they reverted to their Arian beliefs.
In 337, Emperor Constantine died, with the crown passing over to Constantius, his oldest son, and an Arian. When that new emperor banished Athanasius from Alexandria, he went to live with the first Catholic monk and nuns. Those people, striving to live with God, had developed what would become the first religious orders in our church. That began practicing fasts and lives of penance, along with chanting psalms at set times off the day.
When Emperor Constantius forced Athanasius to leave Egypt, he settled in Rome where he introduced the Egyptian Desert practices of prayer and penance which gave life to the monasteries and convents of Europe.