Glossary

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Saint Anthony Abbot

Saint Anthony Abbot is regarded as the founder of monasticism in the West. He was born in Egypt in about 251, and died in the year 356.

He organised hermits into loosely associated communities, but spent much of his life in solitude when he endured physical and spiritual temptations. The austerity and wisdom of his life is recorded in a biography of him written by Saint Athanasius. Artists have tended to favour depicting the temptations he encountered - see, for example, the version of the subject by Carracci in the Collection ('Christ appearing to Saint Anthony Abbot'). His attributes are a tau-shaped crutch (T), a pig, which probably refers to the animals bred by his followers in the Middle Ages, and a bell which may have been used to drive away evil spirits or to attract alms.
 
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