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Antony, St (also called ‘ Antony the Great’ or ‘ Antony of Egypt’, c.250–356). Christian hermit whose life and actions lie at the foundation of monasticism. He withdrew into the desert in c.285, in order to develop holiness of life away from the distractions of the world. Athanasius wrote the Vita Antonii, from which details of his life are derived. He is regarded as ‘the father’ of Christian monasticism.