Tuesday, January 17, 2006

17 January St Anthony, Abbot

The name of this celebrated patriarch was first made popular in Rome by St Athanasius, who, as he described his virtues and miracles to the descendants of the Scipios and the Gracchi in the house of Marcella on the Aventine, awoke in them a love for them monastic life. Nevertheless, the feast of St Anthony did not find a place in the Roman Calendar until much later, when in consequence of the disease commonly known as the holy fire or St Anthony's fire, a great number of hospitals and chapels called after him arose throughout France and Italy.

In Rome, there were several churches dedicated to the saint; those, for instance, near the Mausoleum of Hadrian, on the Ripetta, and in the Forum Romanum, but the most celebrated was that one on the Esquiline -- the ancient Basilica of St Andrew, formerly of Junius Bassus, and afterwards dedicated to the great patriarch of Egyptian monasticism -- which stood near St Mary Major. Attached to it was a hospital in which St Francis of Assisi, amongst others, found a temporary refuge inthe time of Innocent III.

The Mass is the Common of Abbots, just as for the feat of St Sabbas.

More from the Blessed Cardinal Schuster.