vol II date / index
St. Anthony, Patriarch of Monks. Sts. Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus. Sts. Sulpicius I. and II., Abps. of Bourges. St. Milgithe. St. Nennius, or Nennidhius.
St. Anthony, Patriarch of Monks.
The memoirs of St. Anthony make a distinguished figure in the lives of the saints by Alban Butler, who states the particulars to have been extracted from "The Life of St. Anthony," compiled by the great St. Athanasius; "a work," says Butler, "much commended by St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Jerom[e], St. Austin," &c. This statement by Butler, whose biographical labours are estimated by catholics as of the highest order, and the extraordinary temptations which render the life of St. Anthony eminently remarkable, require at least so much notice of him, as may enable the general reader to determine upon the qualities attributed to him, and the reputation his name has attained in consequence.
According to Butler, St. Anthony was born in 251, at Coma near Heraclea in Egypt, and in that neighbourhood commenced the life of a hermit; he was continually assailed by the devil. His only food was bread with a little salt, he drank nothing but water, never ate before sunset, sometimes only once in two or four days, and lay on a rush mat or on the bare floor. For further solitude he left Coma, and hid himself in an old sepulchre, till, in 285, he withdrew into the deserts of the mountains, from whence, in 305, he descended and founded his first monastery. His undergarment was sack-cloth, with a white sheepskin coat and girdle. Butler says that he "was taught to apply himself to manual labour by an angel, who appeared, platting mats of palm-tree leaves, then rising to pray, and after some time sitting down again to work; and who at length said to him, 'Do this, and thou shalt be saved.' The life, attributed by Butler to St. Athanasius, informs us that our saint continued in some degree to pray whilst he was at work; that he detested the Arians; that he would not speak to a heretic unless to exhort him to the true faith; and that he drove all such from his mountain, calling them venomous serpents. He was very anxious that after his decease he should not be embalmed, and being one hundred and five years old, died in 356, having bequeathed one of his sheepskins, with the coat in which he lay, to St. Athanasius." So far Butler.
St. Athanasius, or rather the life of St. Anthony, before alluded to, which, notwithstanding Butler's authorities, may be doubted as the product of Athanasius; but, however, that may be, that memoir of St. Anthony is very particular in its account of St. Anthony's warfare with the infernal powers. It says that hostilities commenced when the saint first determined on hermitting; "in short, the devil raised a great deal of dust in his thoughts, that by bemudding and disordering his intellects he might make St. Anthony let go his design." In his first conflict with the devil he was victorious, although satan appeared to him in an alluring shape. Next he came in the form of a black boy, and was again defeated. After that Anthony got into a tomb and shut down the top, but the devil found him out, and, with a great company of other devils, so beat and bruised him, that in the morning he was discovered by the person who brought his bread, lying like a dead man on the ground; whereupon he took him up and carried him to the town church, where many of his friends sat by him until midnight. Anthony then coming to himself and seeing all asleep, caused the person who brought him thither to carry him back privately, and again got into the tomb, shutting down the tomb-top as before. Upon this, the devils being very much exasperated, one night, made a noise so dreadful, that the walls shook. "They transformed themselves into the shapes of all sorts of beasts, lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions and wolves; every one of which moved and acted agreeably to the creatures which they represented; the lion roaring and seeming to make towards him, the bull to butt, the serpent to creep, and the wolf to run at him, and so in short all the rest; so that Anthony was tortured and mangled by them so grievously that his bodily pain was greater than before." But, as it were laughingly, he taunted them, and the devils gnashed their teeth. This continued till the roof of his cell opened, a beam of light shot down, the devels became speechless, Anthony's pain ceased, and the roof closed again. At one time the devil laid the semblance of a large piece of plate in his way, but Anthony, perceiving the devil in the dish, chid it, and the plate disappeared. At another time he saw a quantity of real gold on the ground, and to show the devil "that he did not value money, he leaped over it as a man in a fright over a fire." Having secluded himself in an empty castle, some of his acquaintance came often to see him, but in vain; he would not let them enter, and they remained whole days and nights listening to a tumultuous rout of devils bawling and wailing within. He lived in that state for twenty years, never seeing or being seen by any one, till his friends broke open the door, and "the specta tors were in amazement to see his body that had been so belaboured by devils in the same shape in which it was before his retirement." By way of a caution to others he related the practices of the devils, and how they appeared. He said that, "to scare us, they will represent themselves so tall as to touch the ceiling,
and proportionably broad; they often pretend to sing psalms and cite the scriptures, and sometimes while we are reading they echo what we read; sometimes they stamp, sometimes they laugh, and sometimes they hiss: but when one regards them not, then they weep and la ment as vanquished. Once, when they came threatening and surrounding me like soldiers, accoutred and horsed, and again when they filled the place with wild beasts and creeping things, I sung Psalm xix. 8., and they were presently routed. Another time, when they appeared with a light in the dark, and said, 'We are come, Anthony, to lend thee our light,' I prayed, shutting my eyes, because I disdained to behold their light, and presently their light was put out. After this they came and hissed and danced, but as I prayed, and lay along singing, they presently began to wail and weep as though they were spent. Once there came a devil very tall in appearance, that dared to say, 'What wouldst thou have me bestow upon thee?' but I spat upon him and endeavoured to beat him, and, great as he was, he disappeared with the rest of the devils. Once one of them knocked at the door of my cell, and when I opened it I saw a tall figure; and when I asked him, 'Who art thou?' he answered, 'I am satan; Why do the monks blame and curse me? I have no longer a place or a city, and now the desert is filled with monks; let them not curse one to no purpose.' I said to him, 'Thou art a liar,' &c. and he disappeared." A deal more than this he is related to have said by his biographer, who affirms that Anthony, "having been prevailed upon to go into a vessel and pray with the monks, he, and he only, perceived a wretched and terrible stink; the company said there was some salt fish in the vessel, but he perceived another kind of scent, and while he was speaking, a young man that had a devil, and who had entered before them and hid himself, cried out, and the devil was rebuked by St. Anthony and came out of him, and then they all knew that it was the devil that stunk."—"Wonderful as these things are, there are stranger things yet; for once, as he was going to pray, he was in a rapture, and (which is a paradox) as soon as he stood up, he saw himself without himself, as it were in the air, and some bitter and terrible beings standing by him in the air too, but the angels, his guardians, withstood them."—"He had also another particular favour, for as he was sitting on the mount in a praying posture, and perhaps gravelled with some doubt relating to himself, in the night-time, one called to him, and said, 'Anthony, arise, go forth and look;' so he went out and saw a certain terrible, deformed personage standing, and reaching to the clouds, and winged creatures, and him stretching out his hands; and some of them he saw were stopped by him, and others were flying beyond him; whereupon the tall one gnashed his teeth, and Anthony perceived that it was the enemy of souls, who seizes on those who are accountable to him, but cannot reach those who are not persuadable by him." His biographer declares that the devils fled at his word, as fast as from a whip.
It appears from lady Morgan, that at the confectioners' in Rome, on twelfth-day, "saints melt in the mouth, and the temptations of St. Anthony are easily digested."
Alban Butler says that there is an extant sermon of St. Anthony's wherein he extols the efficacy of the sign of the cross for chasing the devil, and lays down rules for the discernment of spirits. There is reason to believe that he could not read; St. Austin thinks that he did not know the alphabet. He wore his habit to his dying day, neither washing the dirt off his body, nor so much as his feet, unless they were wet by chance when he waded through water on a journey. The jesuit Ribadeneira affirms, that "all the world relented and bemoaned his death, for afterwards there fell no rain from heaven for three years."
The Engraving of ST. ANTHONY conflicting with the DEVIL, in the present sheet, is after Salvator Rosa.
Saints' bodies appear, from the Romish writiers, to have waited undecomposed in their graves till their odour of sanctity rendered it necessary that their remains should be sought out; and their bodies were sure to be found, after a few centuries of burial, as fresh as if they had been interred a few weeks. Hence it is, that though two centuries elapsed before Anthony's was looked for, yet his grave was not only discovered, but his body was in the customary preservation. It was brought to Europe through a miracle. One Joceline, who had neglected a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, was, therefore, sorely wounded in battle, and carried for dead into a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. When he began to revive, a multitude of devils appeared to drag him to hell and one devil cast a halter about his neck to strangle him, wherefore St. Anthony appeared; the devils flew from him of course, and he commanded Joceline to perform his pilgrimage, and to convey his body from the east; whereupon Joceline obeyed, and carried it to France. When Patrick wrote, thesaint's [sic] beard was shown at Cologne, with a part of his hand, and another piece of him was shown at Tour nay; two of his relics were at Antwerp; a church dedicated to him at Rome was famous for his sackcloth, and part of his palm coat; the other part of it was exhibited at Vienna, and the rest of his body was so multiplied about, that there were limb-bones enough for the remains of half a dozen uncanonized persons. The Romish church has not made saints of late years.
BLESSING OF BEASTS.
On St. Anthony's day, the beasts at Rome are blessed, and sprinkled with holy water. Dr. Forster, in his "Perennial Calendar," remarks, that "the early Catholics regarded no beasts, birds, or fish as hateful." He says, that "St. Anthony was particularly solicitous about animals, to which a whimsical picture by Salvator Rosa represents him as preaching;" and he suggests, that "from his practices, perhaps, arose the custom of blessings passed on animals still practised at Rome; he regarded all God's creatures as worthy of protection"— except heretics, the doctor might have added; unless, indeed, which seems to have been the case, Anthony regarded them as "creatures" of the devil, between whom, and this saint, we have seen that the Rev. Alban Butler takes especial care we should not be ignorant of the miraculous conflicts just related.
Lady Morgan says, that the annual benediction of the beasts at Rome, in a church there dedicated to St. Anthony, lasts for some days: "for not only every Roman from the pope to the peasant, who has a horse, a mule, or an ass, sends his cattle to be blessed at St. Anthony's shrine, but all the English go with their job horses and favourite dogs; and for the small offering of a couple of paoli, get them sprinkled, sanctified, and placed under the protection of this saint. Coach after coach draws up, strings of mules mix with carts and barouches, horses kick, mules are restive, and dogs snarl, while the officiating priest comes forward from his little chapel, dips a brush into a vase of holy water, sprinkles and prays over the beasts, pockets the fee, and retires."
Dr. Conyers Middleton says, that when he was at Rome, he had his own horses blest for eighteen-pence, as well to satisfy his curiosity, as to humour his coachman, who was persuaded that some mischance would befall them in the year, if they had not the benefit of the benediction.
PREACHING TO FISHES.
Lady Morgan describes a picture in the Borghese palace at Rome, representing St. Anthony preaching to the fishes: "The salmon look at the preacher with an edified face, and a cod, with his upturned eyes, seems anxiously seeking for the new light. The saint's sermon is to be had in many of the shops at Rome. St. Anthony addresses the fish, 'Dearly beloved fish;' and the legend adds, that at the conclusion of the discourse, 'the fish bowed to him with profound humility, and a grave and religious countenance.' The saint then gave the fish his blessing, who scudded away to make new conversions,— the missionaries of the main.
"The church of St. Anthony at Rome is painted in curious old frescos, with the temptations of the saint. In one picture he is drawn blessing the devil, disguised in a cowl; probably at that time
'When the devil was sick, and the devil a monk would be;'
"the next picture shows, that
'When the devil was well, the devil a monk was he;'
"for St. Anthony, having laid down in his coffin to meditate the more securely, a parcel of malicious little imps are peeping, with all sorts of whimsical and terrific faces, over its edges, and parodying Hogarth's enraged musician. One abominable wretch blows a post-horn close to the saint's ear, and seems as much delighted with his own music as a boy with a Jew's-harp, or a solo player with his first ad libitum."
St. Anthony's sermon to the fish is given in some of our angling books. If this saint was not the preacher to the fish, but St. Anthony of Padua, the latter has lost the credit of his miraculous exhortation, from the stupendous reputation of his namesake and predecessor. Not to risk the displeasure of him of Padua, by the possibility of mistake, without an attempt to propitiate him if it be a mistake, let it be recorded here, that St. Anthony of Padua's protection of a Portuguese regiment, which enlisted him into its ranks seven hundred years after his death, procured him the honour of being promoted to the rank of captain, by the king of Portugal, as will appear by reference to his military certificate set forth at large in "Ancient Mysteries described."
ST. ANTHONY'S FIRE.
St. Anthony's fire is an inflammatory disease which, in the eleventh century, raged violently in various parts. According to the legend, the intercession of St. Anthony was prayed for, when it miraculously ceased; and therefore, from that time, the complaint has been called St. Anthony's fire.
ST. ANTHONY'S PIG.
Bishop Patrick, from the Salisbury missal and other Romish service-books, cites the supplications to St. Anthony for relief from this disease. Catholic writers affirm it to have been cured by the saint's relics dipped in wine, which proved a present remedy. "Neither," says Patrick, who quotes the Romish writers, "did this benefit by the intercession of St. Anthony accrue only to men, but to cattle also; and from hence we are told the custom arose of picturing this saint with a hog at his feet, because, the same author (Aymerus) says, on this animal God wrought miracles by his servant." Patrick goes on to say, that in honour of St. Anthony's power of curing pigs, "they used in several places to tie a bell about the neck of a pig, and maintain it at the common charge of the parish," from whence came our English proverb of "Tantony pig," or t'Anthony, an abridgement of the Anthony pig.
"I remember," says Stow, "that the officers charged with the oversight of the markets in this city did divers times take from the market people, pigs starved, or otherwise unwholesome for man's sustenance; these they did slit in the ear. One of the proctors for St. Anthony's (Hospital) tied a bell about the neck, (of one of them,) and let it feed on the dunghills: no man would hurt or take it up; but if any gave to them bread, or other feeding, such they (the pigs) would know, watch for, and daily follow, whining till they had somewhat given them: whereupon was raised a proverb, 'Such an one will follow such an one, and whine as it were (like) an Anthony pig.'" If such a pig grew to be fat, and came to good liking, (as oftentimes they did,) then the proctor would take him up to the use of the hospital.
St. Anthony's school in London, now gone to decay, was anciently celebrated for the proficiency of its pupils. Stow relates, that, in his youth, he annually saw, on the eve of St. Bartholomew, the scho lars of the different grammar-schools assembled in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, and then St. Anthony's scholars commonly were the best, and carried the prizes; and that when the boys of St. Paul's school met with those of St. Anthony's, "they would call them St. Anthony's pigs, and they again would call the others pigeons of Paul's; because many pigeons were bred in Paul's church, and St. Anthony was always figured with a pig following him."
The seal of St. Anthony's Hospital in London was about the size of a half-crown; it represented the saint preaching to a numerous congregation, with his pig beneath him. The Rev. Mr. Orton, rector of Raseby in Leicestershire, was supposed to have been its possessor by the late Mr. S. Ayscough, who adds (in the Gent. Mag.) that the hospital of St. Anthony had a grant of all the stray pigs which were not owned. He presumes that, from thence, originated the emblem of the saint's pig. In this he seems to have been mistaken; it clearly did not originate in England; Patrick's solution of it is more probably, and very likely to be correct.
St. Anthony's is always represented by the old painters with a pig by his side. He is so accompanied in the wood-cut to his life in the Golden Legend. There are many prints of him, by early masters, in this way. Rubens painted a fine picture of the Death of St. Anthony, with his pig, or rather a large bacon hog, lying under the saint's bed: there is a good engraving from this picture by Clouwet.
In the British Museum there is a MS. with a remarkable anecdote that would form an appendix to St. Anthony's day. The names of the parties are forgotten; but the particulars, recollected from accidental perusal, are these:
A tailor was met out of doors by a person who requested to be measured for a suit of clothes, to be ready on that spot by that day week; and the stranger gave him a piece of cloth to make them with. From certain circumstances, the tailor suspected his new customer to be the devil, and communicated his conjectures to a clergyman, who advised him to execute the order, but carefully to save every piece, even the minutest shred he cut from the cloth, and put the whole into a wrapper with the clothes; he further promised the tailor to go with him on the appointed day to the place where they were delivered. When all was ready and the day arrived, they both went thither, and the person waiting justified the tailor's suspicions; for he abused the tailor because he brought a divine, and immediately vanished in their presence, leaving the clothes and pieces of cloth in the possession of the tailor, who could not sell the devil's cloth to pay himself for the making, for fear of the consqeuences:
And here ends the history
Of this wonderful mystery;
from which may be drawn, by way of moral, that a tailor ought not to take an order from a stranger without a reference.