The anchorite Anthony of the Desert is frequently on my mind. I’ve been gathering work concerning the saint for a solo show proposal (see my previous post) and reshooting paintings from the past, including this one, my first painting of the hermit.
The Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert
oil on canvas
To add to my mania the poetry site Duane’s Poe Tree featured one of my depictions of the saint, accompanying the painting below with wonderfully revealing source material. Check it out.
Athanasius of Alexandria — Life of St. Anthony:
“More and more confirmed in his purpose, he hurried to the mountain, and having found a fort, so long deserted that it was full of creeping things, on the other side of the river; he crossed over to it and dwelt there…. But those of his acquaintances who came, since he did not permit them to enter, often used to spend days and nights outside, and heard as it were crowds within clamouring, dinning, sending forth piteous voices and crying, “Go from what is ours. What do you even in the desert? You can not abide our attack….” But when stooping down they saw through a hole there was nobody, they were afraid, accounting them to be demons, and they called on Antony. Them he quickly heard, though he had not given a thought to the demons, and coming to the door he besought them to depart and not to be afraid, “for thus,” said he, “the demons make their seeming onslaughts against those who are cowardly. Sign yourselves therefore with the cross, and depart boldly, and let these make sport for themselves….” But he remained in no wise harmed by the evil spirits, nor was he wearied with the contest, for there came to his aid visions from above, and the weakness of the foe relieved him of much trouble and armed him with greater zeal. For his acquaintances used often to come expecting to find him dead, and would hear him singing, “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, let them also that hate Him flee before His face. As smoke vanishes, let them vanish; as wax melts before the face of fire, so let the sinners perish from the face of God…” And so for nearly twenty years he continued training himself in solitude, never going forth, and but seldom seen by any…. One day when he had gone forth because all the monks had assembled to him and asked to hear words from him, he spoke to them…: “The demons… first make an attack by temptation and place hindrances to hamper our way, to wit, evil thoughts. But we need not fear their suggestions, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord their attack immediately fails. But even when it does they cease not, but knavishly by subtlety come on again. For when they cannot deceive the heart openly with foul pleasures they approach in different guise, and thenceforth shaping displays they attempt to strike fear, changing their shapes, taking the forms of women, wild beasts, creeping things, gigantic bodies, and troops of soldiers. But not even then need you fear their deceitful displays. For they are nothing and quickly disappear, especially if a man fortify himself beforehand with faith….”
To delight me further there is this marvelous poem referencing the anchorite by Dorin Popa. I will be looking into more of Popa’s work. Link below:
Now back to the hermitage…