Monastery of Saint Anthony
The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery located in an oasis in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, in the Suez Governorate’s southern section. It’s 334 kilometers (208 miles) southeast of Cairo, nestled deep in the Red Sea Mountains. The disciples of Saint Anthony, the first Christian monk, founded the Monastery of Saint Anthony. The Monastery of St. Anthony is one of Egypt’s most famous monasteries, having influenced the creation of various Coptic organizations as well as monks and nuns in general. The monastery has produced multiple patriarchs, and hundreds of pilgrims visit it every day.
Saint Anthony’s Life
Firstly, Saint Anthony was a Christian saint who was born in Lower Egypt in 251 AD to a wealthy family. He was adopted when he was eight years old. The majority of what we know about him comes from Athanasius of Alexandria‘s biographical book, Vita Antonii. Anthony is shown in this biography as an uneducated and saintly guy who got an absolute connection to heavenly truth through his existence in a primal terrain. The words he heard from Mark, telling him to give up everything of his possessions and seek God, were the catalyst for St. Anthony dedicating his life to God and the church.
Then, Anthony gave away all of his property and material goods when he was 34 years old, and he set off for the Eastern Desert in search of a life of humility, seclusion, and mental reflection. Also, Saint Anthony took the things he heard literally, and it was this that drove him into the desert to live an ascetic life. He took up residence in a small cave and practiced asceticism. Despite the fact that St. Anthony was not the first monk, he drew a large following and is considered one of the forefathers of modern Christian monasticism.
Saint Anthony’s followers gathered around the hermit’s residence a few years after his death. During the reign of Constantius Chlorus, the Monastery of Saint Anthony was established between 298 and 300. in addition, it is followers built only the most basic structures in the original village. However, Isolation was highlighted. They were imprisoned in solitary cells encircling a community worship center where they performed the Divine Liturgy. They ate their meals in a simple refectory.  As time went, the emphasis on asceticism faded, and St. Anthony’s disciples began to form deeper bonds in order to enhance safety, convenience, and mutual fellowship. Also, an Antonian monk’s existence gradually changed from one of solitary austerity to one that allowed for community activities.
Finally, the modern monastery has gardens, a mill, a bakery, and five churches, making it a self-contained hamlet. Paintings depicting knights in vivid colors and hermits in more somber tones cover the walls. Soot, candle grease, oil, and dust have worn down the wall paintings throughout the decades. on the other hand, the paintings have been restored thanks to a collaboration between the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the American Research Facility in Egypt. Also, the monastery’s oldest paintings come from the 7th and 8th centuries, while the most recent are from the 13th.
- The Medieval Church of St. Anthony
- The Apostles church
- The Church of St. Mark the Ascetic
- Virgin Mary Church and St. Michael Church