Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria

May 2 – St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria –

Born and educated in Alexandria, he was ordained a deacon, then a priest, although he also spent some time in the desert with St. Anthony. In 325, he assisted his Bishop, Alexander, at the Council of Nicaea, where his influence began to be felt. Five months later Alexander died. On his death bed he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor. In consequence of this, Athanasius was unanimously elected Patriarch in 326. His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for St. Athanasius. He spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile. After a life of virtue and suffering, this intrepid champion of the Faith, the greatest man of his time, died in peace on May 2, 373.

The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father. Arius taught that God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally. Arians taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by (and therefore inferior to) God the Father at some point, before which the Son did not exist.