| St. Athanasius: Biography & Selected Writings
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
by Marcellino D'Ambrosio
(scroll down for a list of online writings) Life: St. Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt, around the year 296 AD. Most probably, he was educated in the famous catechetical school of that city, which decades earlier was led by St. Clement of Alexandria and then Origen. Athanasius became a deacon and secretary to the Alexandria's bishop, Alexander, and in that capacity accompanied his bishop to the first great Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Shortly after returning from the Council (328), St. Athanasius was named the successor to bishop Alexander and became patriarch archbishop of Alexandria, the greatest episcopal see in the Church after Rome.
St. Athanasius is one of the most important of the Early Church Fathers, best known for his tireless proclamation of the Council of Nicaea's profession of faith in the full divinity of Christ during the troubled period of the Arian heresy, which denied Jesus' equality with the Father. For decades after the Council, powerful forces in the government of the Eastern Roman empire lobbied for an Arian form of Christian faith. Athanasius bravely stood against them and was exiled numerous times by the government and actually had to flee to Rome in 339 where he stayed for 7 years in exile, establishing close relationships with the Roman Church which supported him throughout the rest of his life as he continued to stand for orthodoxy.
While still a deacon in his twenties, Athanasius wrote his famous treatise, On the Incarnation (full text available below), which remains one of two best known works. The other is his Life of Antony, the spiriutal classic which tells the story of St. Anthony of the Desert who initiated the monastic movement in Egypt and indeed throughout the entire Christian world. St. Antony and his monks were stalwart supporters of Athanasius throughout his struggle with Arianism. From 339 to 359 Athanasius also wrote a number of other works defending the orthodox faith of the Council of Nicaea. Many of the excerpts below are selections from these many works. St. Athanasius died in Alexandria on May 2, 373, and to this day he is honored on May 2 in the Roman liturgy.
For an overview of the Early Church Fathers, click here.
The Fathers of the Church - Who They Are and Why They Matter
In a single, upbeat talk, full of examples and fascinating stories about some of the Church's most intriguing personalities, Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers. Though the ranks of the fathers include a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most pressing questions of our day. In this dynamic talk, available on CD or audiocassette, Marcellino makes clear just how much these figures have to teach us.
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