(A Paintely Tradition)

St Antony’s Egypt point to a time when the last reflections of the ancient world was reflecting on the beginnings of the new, where the old doomed gods undermine hope and the heresies compromise faith.

Antony the Egyption anchorite whose path to salvation was obstructed by the villainous interference of recourcefull demons. Surounded by followers who in the spirit of the most unlovely competition tried to equel the sufferings of the matyrs by prolonged and refined self inflicted tortures. Antony as social outcast retreats to the inner mountains of upper Egypt. To mine the pandemoniac junkshop of solitude. The saintly monomaniac cast from heretical pillar to hallucinatory post. Solitude and desire. The wasting leprosy of ennui echos of a metaphysical howl. A refugee from the tedious irrelevance of the gentle stupidity of things.

As we look at the world in which St Antony lived, we see a world in metaphysical turmoil. The apocalyptical writings of Judaism of angelic hosts in conflict. The Gnostics as a diabolical twin of Christianity with their rejection of the freedom of man and the ultimate goodness of creation.

The Roman empire divided between the Latin west and the Greek speaking east. A de facto Christian empire sence the counsil of Nicaea 315. The theological splitting of hairs, the conflict for the ultimate control of the official Roman church, the bitter and bloody Arian controversy in which even St Antony became embroiled. The eventual intolerance and cruelty of the Latin Roman church. We learn of the lady Hypatia of Alexandria pagan teacher of mathematics, astronomy and neoplatonist philosophy torn to pieces by a Christian mob, instigated by their bishop (later saint) Cyril. In this cruel and fragmented times we find St Antony at his inner mountains in upper Egypt in a hollow of time in a fold of history in a state of saintly folly.