St Anthony was born in Coma near Heracleopolis Magna in Fayum in the middle of the Third Century to a well off family.
His parents died when he was just 20 years old . He sold all his possessions and devoted himself to religious deeds. He withdrew from the world into ascetism. He lived in one of the toimbs in his native village for fifteen years. He had many encounters with demons in the form of wild beasts who beat him and many times left him for dead. After fifteen years he went into total solitude. He found an old fort across the Nile on a mountain called Pispir. Here he lived for twenty years without seeing the face of any man. Pilgrims would throw food over the walls to him but during all this time he refused to see them. Gradually follwers attached themselves to the area around him, and a community of ascetics formed in the caves and huts around the mountain. They begged Anthony to be their spiritual guide. In the year 305 he came out and looked as fresh and young as when he went into solitude. For about six years he taught the monks.
He then decided to withdraw to a desert between the Nile and Red Sea to a mountain called Der Mar Antonios. Here he lived for the last 45 years of his life. He did not live in total seclusion as he saw the pilgrims who came to him. He visited Alexandria twice-once to strengthen the Christians in a time of persecution in the year 311 and once in 350 to preach against arians.He died around the years 356-357 aged 105.
At his request the place of his burial was kept secret by the two disciples who buried him.
He wrote instructions on Spiritual Life. "The Life" contains details of his warfare with demons and his beliefs and doctrines. His sayings are contained in the "Apophthegmata". It is very probable that the stories in Cassian and Palladius about him are true.
Anthony knew no Greek.He spoke Coptic. He was gentle and moderate in his demeanour. He was full of enthusiasm but never fanatical . He believed that of all the virtues discretion was the most essential for perfection. The Monasticism he established became the norm in Northern Egypt from Lycopolis to the Mediterranean. He is considered the Father of Christian Monasticism.
His day is celebrated on 17th January.