Anthony was born into a wealthy family in 251. After his parents died he distributed his property to the poor and, beginning a life of penance, withdrew into solitude of the Egyptian desert at the age of 18. He attracted disciples and laboured on behalf of the Church, giving support to believers during the persecution of Diocletian and assisting St Athanasius (who wrote his Life) against the Arians. He died in 356. He is honoured as the Patriarch of Monks.