The Holy and Apostolic Father Abba Athanasius

May 13, 2022

The Holy and Apostolic Father Abba Athanasius, the twentieth Archbishop of the city of Alexandria died on May 15. He was the son of heretical and pagan parents.

One day whilst he was at school and learning, he saw Christian’s children performing the Ordinances of the Church as they were playing together. some of were number priests, some deacons and one of them they made archbishop. Athanasius asked the Christian children to let him join them in the game they were playing, but said to him, “You are a pagan and you would not be amongst us.” Then He said to them, “I will become a Christian.” so, they rejoiced and said to him, “You shall become a Christian and archbishop.” Then they placed a seat like a throne under him and began to bow down before him.

At that moment father Abba Alexander the Archbishop passed by and when he saw the children playing together, he said to them, “This boy will assuredly be appointed to some exalted and honorable position.” When the father of Athanasius died, He came to Abba Alexander the Archbishop and he baptized him with Christian baptism.

This father gave all his goods to the poor and needy and dwelt with Abba Alexander who taught him all the doctrine, Law of the Church. He became a beloved son to him. He was then appointed deacon and the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit was given to him in a two-fold measure.

When the Holy Father Abba Alexander died, [the bishops and priests] appointed this father Athanasius Archbishop of the city of Alexandria. Meanwhile Constantine the righteous emperor died and his son Constantine, who was an Arian, reigned in his stead. So, the followers of Arius increased and the emperor drove this father Abba Athanasius from his archiepiscopate. He placed there in his stead a certain man whose name was “George.” This father lived in exile six years, far from his throne in the country of the West. There was in a house of idols that place. Many men were gathered together therein. He went into that house of idols, where many works of devils were performed. This Saint entreated our Lord Jesus Christ until he overthrew that house of idols and converted all the men of that country. He even brought them into the knowledge of God. After this, God brought him back to the city of Alexandria, He drove out George the infidel Arian. Abba Athanasius sat upon his archiepiscopal throne for six years.

The Arians went to the emperor and made false accusations against this father. The emperor sent a judge, who seized him and shut him up in prison, with the Archbishop of Antioch. God sent His angel and delivered him from the prison house. After the emperor died God set in his place his son, who was Orthodox, and he restored this father to his archiepiscopal throne. Abba Athanasius sat for twelve years in quietness and in peace, until Saint Kewestos died. After him Julian the infidel reigned. He searched for Abba Athanasius, who fled from him into Upper Egypt and lived near Akhmim.

When God destroyed Julian, the infidel, the people searched for Abba Athanasius and when they found him not they went to the great father Abba Anthony. He told them that Athanasius was living in the city of Akhmim and they went to him. They brought him to this throne with great joy. He lived in his archiepiscopal house in safety and in peace until he died. The days of his throne were seven and forty years. Because there had come upon this father labor and tribulation, sorrow, and exile, he was called “Apostolic.” At the time of his death he said, “If I have found grace and favor with God I will bow down before Him and ask Him to overthrow the temple of Sarabil (Serapis).” After the death of this father Abba Athanasius, the emperor sent and pulled down the temple of Sarabil (Serapis).

Glory be to God who is glorified in His Saints; Amen.

Source: The Ethiopian Synaxarium page 495-496