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Athanasius, known as “the Champion of Orthodoxy,” was born in Alexandria in approximately 297. Nothing is known of his family except that his parents were Christians and that he had a brother, Peter.

From his youth he was close to the hermits of the desert, specially the great St. Anthony whose life he wrote. He was highly educated in Greek, literature, philosophy and rhetoric, jurisprudence and Christian doctrine, and had an exceptional knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Around 318, he was received into the diaconate and was appointed secretary to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria.

About the year 323, a presbyter of Libyan origins by name Arius, scandalized Christianity by teaching that Christ, although a superlative human, was not divine. Bishop Alexander called a council of Egyptian bishops who condemned the doctrine as heresy, and deposed Arius and eleven priests and deacons. The heresiarch continued to win over prelates and “intellectuals”, disseminating his doctrine in songs set to popular tunes, which chanted in marketplaces and by sailors, spread like wildfire throughout the Mediterranean.

Athanasius was present at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 which formerly defined the heresy and set forth the true doctrine of the divinity of Christ, excommunicated Arius and promulgated the Nicene Creed.

At the death of Bishop Alexander, shortly after the council, Athanasius was nominated his successor though not yet thirty years of age.

In 330, the Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia persuaded the Emperor Constantine to write to Athanasius bidding him re-admit Arius into communion. Athanasius replied that the Catholic Church could hold no communion with heretics who attacked the divinity of Christ. He was to lead the struggle against Arianism for the rest of his life.

The embattled bishop was accused of everything from exacting a tax on church linen to killing a dissenting bishop (very much alive in hiding). After these accusations, his life was plagued with harassment, banishments, the need to defend himself before councils with periods of reprieve depending on which emperor reigned.

At one point his diocese was even usurped by an Arian bishop.

Five times he was driven from his post, spending a total of seventeen years as a bishop in exile. When banished, Athanasius followed the example of his friend St. Anthony and retired to the desert.

Finally, Emperor Valens, fearing an uprising of the Egyptians who loved their prelate, revoked a fifth edict of banishment, and Athanasius was escorted back to his see in triumph.

He reigned undisturbed for the last seven years of his life, dying in Alexandria on May 2, 373.

His body was later translated first to Constantinople and then to Venice.

 


 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 3, 2021

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction will...

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August 3

 

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction
will come to relieve and comfort you
by infusing fresh courage into your soul.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Waltheof of Melrose

He strove so greatly for perfection that his confessors ofte...

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St. Waltheof of Melrose

Waltheof was born of English nobility. The son of Simon, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Maud, the grand-niece of William the Conqueror, he was also the grandson of Saint Waldef of Northumbria. As a child, Waltheof felt drawn to churches and the religious life. Following his father's death, he, and his mother and brother moved to Scotland where Maud married King David I. As part of the royal court, he was educated and became a spiritual student of St. Aelred.

Following his long-held inclination to contemplation and desiring to dedicate himself entirely to God, Waltheof left Scotland and traveled to Yorkshire to join the Augustinian Canons at the monastery at Nostell. He was soon chosen as prior, and led the monks in a more austere rule. Some time later, Waltheof left Nostell for the more austere life of the Cistercian monks.
Four years after receiving the Cistercian habit, he was nominated as abbot of Melrose, a newly established monastery. Then, in 1154, he was chosen as the new Archbishop of St. Andrews, but in his humility, he begged St. Aelred to oppose the election and not oblige him to accept.

Waltheof died in 1160 of old age. It has been said that he strove so greatly for perfection, that his confessors often found him irksome.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by h...

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.