Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God. This is important because some people called Arians denied it. Even before he became a priest, Athanasius had read many books on the faith. That is why he could so easily point out the false teachings of the Arians.
This saint became the archbishop of Alexandria when he was not yet thirty years old. For forty-six years, he was a brave shepherd of his flock. Four Roman emperors could not make him stop writing his clear and beautiful explanations of our holy faith. His enemies persecuted him in every way.
Five times he was sent out of his own diocese. His first exile lasted two years. He was sent to the city of Trier in 336. A kindly bishop, St. Maxi-minius, welcomed him warmly. The feast of St. Maximinius is celebrated on May 29. Other exiles lasted longer. Athanasius was hunted by people who wanted to kill him. During one tense exile, monks kept him safe in the desert for seven years. His enemies just could not find him.
Once the emperor's soldiers were chasing Athanasius down the Nile River. "They are catching up to us!" cried the saint's friends. Athanasius was not worried. "Turn the boat around," he said calmly, "and row toward them." The soldiers in the other boat shouted, "Have you seen Athan-asius?" Back came the answer: "You are not far from him!" The enemy boat sped by them faster than ever, and the saint was safe!
The people of Alexandria loved their good archbishop. He was a real father to them. As the years passed, they appreciated more and more how much he had suffered for Jesus and the Church. It was the people who stepped in and saw to it that Athanasius had some well-deserved peace. He spent the last seven years of his life safe with them. His enemies hunted but could never find him. During that time, St. Athanasius wrote The Life of St. Anthony the Hermit. Anthony had been his personal friend when Athanasius was young. St. Anthony's feast is celebrated on January 17.
St. Athanasius died quietly on May 2, 373. He remains one of the greatest, bravest saints of all time.
What challenges do I encounter living as a Christian today? Listen to Jesus' words: "In my Father's house are many rooms.and when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (Jn. 14:2-3)