Antony lost both his parents by the time he was 20 years old. He gave away his worldly goods and lived as a hermit in the desert. He established “families” of monks who under the guidance of a spiritual father, dedicated themselves to the service of God.
St. Anthony is often depicted next to a pig with a bell around its neck. This iconographic representation is linked to the fact that the ancient hospitaller order of the “Antonines” raised pigs because the fat of these animals was used to anoint the sick affected by ergotism (a toxic condition produced by eating grain, grain products (such as rye bread), or grasses infected with ergot fungus or by chronic excessive use of an ergot drug). This disease was then called “the fire of Sant ‘Antonio.” On his feast day, the stalls are blessed, as are any domestic animals brought for blessing.
In iconography associated with St. Anthony there also are the figures the hermit’s staff in the form of T, the tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: St. Antony, Abbott – Information on the – Vatican News. (n.d.). Vatican News. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2021, from https://www.vaticannews.va/en/St.s/01/17/st–antony–abbott.html