Athanasius of Alexandria

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:<small> ''For other uses, see [[Athanasius (disambiguation)]]'' </small>
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[[Image:Athanasius.jpg|right|frame|St. Athanasius]] Our father among the saints '''Athanasius of Alexandria''' (also spelled "Athanasios"; from Greek, "immortal") was a bishop of Alexandria and major theological writer in the fourth century.  He is also called '''Athanasius the Great''' and (by the [[Church of Alexandria (Coptic)|Coptic church]]) '''Athanasius the Apostolic'''. He was born in 298 and died on [[May 2]], 373.  His [[feast day]] in the [[Orthodox Church]] is [[January 18]].
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== Life ==
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He was born to pagan parents. When he was in school he saw a group of Christians acting out services and when he asked to join them, they refused. From then on he declared himself Christian. The patriarch at that time, Pope [[Alexander of Alexandria|Alexander]], predicted that he would eventually hold a great position.
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Before reaching the age of 20, Athanasius wrote a treatise entitled ''On the Incarnation'', affirming and explaining that [[Jesus Christ]] was both God and Man. In about 319, when Athanasius was a [[deacon]], a [[presbyter]] named [[Arius]] began teaching that there was a time before God the Father begat Jesus when the latter did not exist.  Athanasius responded that the Father's begetting of the Son, or uttering of the Word, was an eternal relationship between them, not an event that took place within time.  Thus began catholic Christianity's fight against the [[heresy]] of [[Arianism]]. 
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Athanasius fought consistently against Arianism all his life.  As a deacon, he accompanied Alexander of Alexandria to the [[First Ecumenical Council|First Council of Nicaea]] in 325, which produced the [[Nicene Creed]] and anathematized Arius and his followers. The [[Church of Alexandria (Coptic)|Coptic church]] maintains a tradition that Athanasius was the main author of the Nicene Creed, and has therefore given him the title of ''Defender of the Faith''.
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On [[May 9]], 328, he succeeded Alexander as bishop of Alexandria, becoming the 20th Patriarch of the [[Church of Alexandria]], a position which he held for 45 years, 16 of which he spent in exile.  As a result of rises and falls in Arianism's influence, he was banished from Alexandria only to be later restored on at least five separate occasions, perhaps as many as seven. This gave rise to the expression ''Athanasius contra mundum'' or "Athanasius against the world." During some of his exiles, he spent time with the [[Desert Fathers]], monks and hermits who lived in remote areas of Egypt.
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Athanasius is also the first person to identify the same 27 books of the [[New Testament]] that are in use today; up until his Easter letter, various similar lists were in use. However, his list was the one that was eventually ratified by a series of synods and came to be universally recognized as the New Testament [[canon]].
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He also wrote a biography of [[Anthony the Great]] that later served as an inspiration to Christian [[monasticism|monastics]] in both the East and the West. The [[Athanasian Creed]] is traditionally ascribed to him, though it is likely not his work.
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[[Image:StAthanasiusShrineinStMarkCathedralCairo.jpg|thumb|St. Athanasius Shrine (where the saint's [[relics]] are preserved) under St. Mark's Cathedral, Cairo]] The [[saint]] was originally buried in Alexandria. His holy body was later transferred to Italy. [[Pope]] [[Shenouda III (Gayyid) of Alexandria|Shenouda III]] restored the [[relics]] of St. Athanasius to Egypt on [[May 15|15 May]] 1973,<ref>[http://www.avarewase.org/en/map/athanas.htm  Saint Athanasius]</ref> after his historical visit to the Vatican and meeting with Pope Paul VI. The relics of St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria are currently preserved under the new St. [[Apostle Mark|Mark]] [[Coptic]] Orthodox Cathedral in Deir El-Anba Rowais, Abbassiya, Cairo, Egypt.
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The following is a [[troparion]] (hymn) to St. Athanasius sung in some Orthodox churches:
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: ''O holy father Athanasius,
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: ''like a pillar of orthodoxy
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: ''you refuted the heretical nonsense of Arius
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: ''by insisting that the Father and the Son are equal in essence.
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: ''O venerable father, beg Christ our God to save our souls.
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{{start box}}
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{{succession|
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before=Alexander|
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title=[[Patriarch of Alexandria]]|
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years=326-373|
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after=Peter II|}}
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{{end box}}
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==Reference==
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<references />
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==External links==
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*[http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-04/TOC.htm Background information and writings]
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*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=100219 St Athanasius the Great the Archbishop of Alexandria] ([[OCA]])
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*[http://goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=391 Athanasios & Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria] ([[GOARCH]])
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*[http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/my.html?month=January&day=18 Saint Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria] (''[[Prologue of Ohrid]]'')
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*[http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/9_7.html#1 The Departure of St. Athanasius the Apostolic the 20th. Pope of Alexandria] (Coptic)
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*[http://www.comeandseeicons.com/a/pha14.htm St. Athanasios the Great Icon and Story]
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[[Category:Bishops]]
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[[Category:Church Fathers]]
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[[Category:Patriarchs of Alexandria]]
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[[Category:Saints]]
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[[ar:أثناسيوس السكندري]]
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[[el:Μέγας Αθανάσιος]]
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[[ro:Atanasie al Alexandriei]]
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Revision as of 03:06, June 10, 2008

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