On January 17 the Orthodox Church celebrates the day of Saint Anthony the Great, popular in the Bulgarian folk tradition as Antonovden.
St. Anthony is one of the first ascetics, ie loners (monks) who chose life separated from the material world and stay in deserts or remote mountains to attain spiritual upliftment. St. Anthony was born around 251 AD in Middle Egypt in a wealthy family. He decided to become an ascetic at very young age and to seek a different path to enlightenment of the mind. After giving away everything that he possessed and he settled in a tomb carved in the rocks. Trying to dramatically change his lifestyle, Anthony was forced to lead a tough fight with the demons of temptation. Convinced that fortitude strengthens when weaken body pleasures, the ascetic spent his entire youth in retreat. Finally, achieving peace of mind, Anthony became the father of many monks who founded monasteries or inhabited separate cells in the rocks, guided them, presented them with moral lectures.
Many miracles are attributed to this religious father. His fame reached even Constantinople. Constantine the Great and one of his sons would write letters to Saint Anthony asking for his blessing and advice.
Saint Anthony died on 17 January 356 AD at the age of 105. He instructed two of his monks to bury him secretly, so his resting place will remain unknown.
On the next day - January 18, the Orthodox Church honors St.Athanasios. When we celebrate his memory, we can say: "Not all of us are rich, not all are great, but all are called to holiness." Like all ancient teachers of the Church, St. Athanasios gives an example that faith and commitments are inseparable. The saint is one of the most celebrated advocates of the Christian doctrine. He was born in 295 in the city of Alexandria, Egypt. He had the privilege to be a contemporary of Constantine the Great, who first declared Christianity for official religion of the Eastern Roman Empire. Due to his theological education St. Athanasios was honored to attend the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, together with the Emperor himself. His theological knowledge broken the Arian heresy and contribute to the creation of Nicaea-Constantinople symbol of faith. The following year he was placed on lead the eparchy of Alexandria, which he continued to do for 47 years. During this time Athanasios wrote many books and letters, created a true collection of the Christian holly books. He is credited that today we know of the life of St. Anthony, which had a huge impact on the development of monasticism, especially in the West. In 373, St. Athanasios died in Alexandria at the age of 76.
Ivanka Deleva, curator in Department History of Regional Burgas Museum