This Bishop of Alexandria and Greek Father of the Church is perhaps best known amongst monastics for his ‘Life of Antony’, of which here is part of his introduction: ‘Athanasius the bishop to the brethren in foreign parts. You have entered upon a noble rivalry with the monks of Egypt by your determination either to equal or surpass them in your training in the way of virtue. For by this time there are monasteries among you, and the name of monk receives public recognition. With reason, therefore, all men will approve this determination, and in answer to your prayers God will give its fulfilment. Now since you asked me to give you an account of the blessed Antony’s way of life, and are wishful to learn how he began the discipline, who and what manner of man he was previous to this, how he closed his life, and whether the things told of him are true, that you also may bring yourselves to imitate him, I very readily accepted your behest, for to me also the bare recollection of Antony is a great accession of help. And I know that you, when you have heard, apart from your admiration of the man, will be wishful to emulate his determination; seeing that for monks the life of Antony is a sufficient pattern of discipline’.

St Athanasius himself endured much tribulation, including a number of exiles. May he pray for us, for steadfastness and perseverance in our own vocation, and may God bless you this day.