While studying Family Trees there are often surprises. Such was the case as the author researched the significant role of a wealthy young Egyptian-turned-hermit, St. Anthony of the Desert. He plays a significant role in the life of St. Augustine: whose Rule is the foundation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. His story is recounted in the following excerpts.
"One day late in the third century, in Upper Egypt, the Gospel story of the rich young man was read out during a service. A young man, Anthony was listening, and it seemed to him, as his biographer Athanasius wrote: 'the reading had been directed to him.' He could not even wait for the service to end, but rushed out of Church to act on the command."
Warriors of God , W. Nigg, p. 19.
"He went home and made over to his neighbors about one hundred and twenty acres of good land. He then sold the rest of the estate and gave the money to the needy, saving only what he thought necessary to maintain his sister and himself. Another drastic step was to follow.
He heard in church those other words Christ spoke (Mt. 6:34), 'Do not be anxious about tomorrow.' Anthony now distributed in alms all his movable property and placed his sister in a 'house of virgins,' the first reference we have to a Christian nunnery. In her later years this sister was entrusted with the direction of the women in that holy way of life. Anthony, now twenty-one and free of worldly care, became a hermit. He retired to a solitary place and occupied himself with manual labor, prayer, and religious reading. His only food was bread and a little salt, and he drank nothing but water. His bed was a rush mat. He soon became a model of humility, piety, and self-discipline."
Butler's Lives of the Saints , p. 42.