Augustine Sokolovski

On August 22, Churches that follow the Julian calendar celebrate the memory of the martyr Anthony of Alexandria. The saint is one of several dozen holy martyrs who suffered for Christ in Alexandria, any information about the circumstances of life, or even the time of suffering, which has not been preserved. The fact that for more than 1700 years their names have not been removed from the calendars by a bold human hand or by oversight testifies to God's special love for them.

It is known that the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was, for the most part, not systematic. Besides Decius (249-251), Diocletian (284-305), and some other emperors who carried out full-fledged campaigns to exterminate Christians, believers in Christ mostly suffered from sudden outbursts of anger from the pagan crowd, as well as because of denunciations.

Christians did not take part in the sacrifices to the deities, and therefore were considered atheists. Since such religious events were of a public nature, Christians were called enemies of society. The anger of the crowd kindled suddenly. No trial, inquiry or trial was organized. Protocols were not preserved as written evidence. In this case, the torment that Christians endured could be especially cruel.

Anthony is one of the many Alexandrian martyrs whose names are in the church calendar not according to the dates of "birthdays", as the ancient Christians called the days of martyrdom, but according to the circumstances of death. In the ancient menologions, he is mentioned along with the martyrs Vassus, Protus, Lycius, and others who were drowned.

The ancient church calendars say that Anthony was severely tormented. They hung him on a tree, planed with iron, tried to burn him alive. Then they threw him into the sea. Obsessed with mummification, the Egyptian pagans believed that the burning of a dead body was the highest degree of destruction of a person and humiliation in relation to the dead. The Lord, despite the most extraordinary torments, keeping Antony alive, did not allow them to triumph in this way.

“And they took Jonah and threw him into the sea,” it is written in the book of the prophet Jonah (Jonah 1:15). Then the pagans were afraid of the wrath of God unknown to them. They sheltered the biblical prophet on their ship, and in order to get rid of the punishment, they threw him into the sea. Many centuries later, this biblical prophecy about the Resurrection again found its visible fulfillment. The worshipers of the deities could not kill the servant of Christ. They plunged Antony into what seemed to ancient people a boundless sea. But the Apocalypse says that in the future age "there will be no sea" (Rev. 21:1). Such was the method of grace, God's predestination of the martyrs. So the Ocean of Tears, in grace, carried Anthony home, to that world where the dead have already come to life, and reign before God where Jesus is (Rev. 20:4).