Old Calendar: St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and a great defender of the orthodox faith, throughout his life opposed the Arian heresy. By denying the Godhead of the Word the Arians turned Christ into a mere man, only higher in grace than others in the eyes of God. St. Athanasius took part in the Council of Nicea in 325 and until the end remained a champion of the faith as it was defined by the Council. In him the Church venerates one of her great Doctors. He was subjected to persecutions for upholding the true teaching concerning the person of Christ and was sent into exile from his see no less than five times. He died at Alexandria in 373 after an episcopate of forty-six years.
A champion of orthodoxy! He did not die a martyr, but his life was martyrdom in the truest sense. Athanasius was the Church's greatest hero in the battle against Arianism (a heresy that denied Christ's divinity). Even as a young deacon at the Council of Nicea (325), he was recognized as "Arius' ablest enemy" and the foremost defender of the Church's faith. After the death of his bishop (328), "the entire Catholic congregation with one accord, as one soul and body, voiced the wish of the dying bishop Alexander that Athanasius should succeed him. Everyone esteemed him as a virtuous, holy man, an ascetic, a true bishop."
Often Portrayed As: Bishop arguing with a pagan; bishop holding an open book; bishop standing over a defeated heretic. Things to Do:
- If you are feeling academic you might like to read Ecclesiastical History by Salaminius Hermias Sozomenus.
- Watch this excellent EWTN video on St. Athanasius of Alexandria
- Read more about St. Athanasius at the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Read Select Treatises of St. Athanasius translated by John Henry Newman here
- Purchase a copy of "On the Incarnation" by St. Athanasius