“The Torment of Saint Anthony,” painted by High Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo (1475-1564) c. 1487-88, depicts of St. Anthony of the Desert, or of Egypt (251-356) being assailed in the desert by demons, whose temptations he resisted. This composition shows an episode where St. Anthony, normally flown about the desert supported by angels, was ambushed in mid-air by devils. (Public Domain/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Jan. 17

Associated with the beginnings of monasticism, Anthony gave his inherited lands and wealth in Egypt to the poor.

From the age of about 20 until his death at 105, he lived as a hermit in remote hilltop and desert locations.

What is known about him comes from a life written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. Around 306 he began to accept disciples, founding his first monastery as a collection of hermits’ cells. He cultivated a garden, wove rush mats and fought many temptations and demons.

Visitors sought his wise counsel, collected in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, and the bishops of Alexandria summoned him at age 87 to help refute Arianism.

He is the patron of basket and brush makers, butchers and gravediggers.