The story of the canonization of a saint is similar for both Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. The scism that split Christianity in 1054 AD changed the lives of many saints, but their stories have parallels. St. Antony and St. Gerasimus both influenced the development of modern Orthodox Christianity.
During his lifetime, Antony was a man of great virtue. He fought against heresy, urging others to repent and live according to their faith. Despite his persecution and the suffering of others, his courage and faith helped him gain many followers. Among his followers were soldiers and rich men. His preaching was so effective that many of them became monks.
Saint Anthony lived a long life and even witnessed the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. He also served as a spiritual father to many monastic communities throughout the centuries. He was also a martyr, defending the Orthodox faith from heresy. He died in a desert monastery in 356 A.D.
Antony had the gift of discerning spirits. He saw them in their movements and never let himself be deceived. Moreover, he taught those who doubted the faith how to defeat these spirits. Throughout the night, Antony stayed with the young man and prayed for him. Then, at dawn, the young man attacked him, but Antony remained calm and refused to be angry with him.
The early monks who followed Anthony considered themselves the vanguard of God’s army and tried to imitate him in spiritual purity and freedom from temptation. Their piety led to the spread of Christian monasticism in the West. The sayings of the Desert Fathers also mention St. Anthony.
As a renowned orthodox saint, Antony was beloved by all. When he visited other Christians, he would subject himself to good men. He would observe where each one surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He would pay special attention to their unceasing prayer, their freedom from anger, their longsuffering, and their piety towards the Christ. He also took note of their mutual love.
Saint Anthony endured many temptations from the devil. He was tempted to spend his life in vanity and lust, but he refused to indulge himself. The Enemy also came to him in the form of a small, dark figure. He tried to tempt him to indulge in vanity, but prayer and meditation helped him to overcome his temptations.