St. Athanasius, the great champion of the faith and Doctor of the Church, was born in Alexandria about the year 296, to Christian parents. Educated under the eye of Alexander, later bishop of his native city, he made great progress in learning and virtue. In 313, Alexander succeeded Achillas in the Patriarchal See, and two years later St. Athanasius went to the desert to spend some time in retreat with St. Anthony of Egypt (of whom he later wrote a biography that popularized monastic life).
In 319, he became a deacon and was called upon to oppose the rising heresy of Arianism, which was to become his life’s struggle.
In 325, he assisted Bishop Alexander at the Council of Nicaea, where the Nicene Creed was formulated and the dual nature of Christ as both God and man was affirmed. Five months later Bishop Alexander died, and on his death bed he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor. Athanasius was unanimously elected patriarch in 326.
His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for him. He spent 17 of the 46 years of his episcopate in exile. After a life of virtue and suffering, this intrepid champion of the Catholic faith died in peace on May 2, 373.
St. Athanasius, pray for us.