St. Athanasius the Great was born of Christian parents and educated in Alexandria's catechetical school. He became deacon and secretary to his bishop Alexander, whom he accompanied to the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, The Council condemned Arianism which denied the eternity of the Word of God and the Divinity of Christ in full. He vigorously defended Orthodoxy and refused all compromise with Arians and semi-Arians, who were, however, strongly represented at the imperial court.
He became bishop in 328 AD at the age of about 30 and made extensive pastoral visits in his province, but was soon the target of bitter attacks by Arians and Meletians. Summoned to the hostile Council of Tyre and appealing to the emperor for fair treatment, he was exiled and then restored, deposed, and then reinstated. Much of his life was spent in exile.
St. Athanasius was a prolific author and strongly contributed to the theology of the Redemption. The theme of his early work (Of the Incarnation of the Word of God) is the restoration of fallen man to the image of God in which he was created, through God the Word's union with mankind. He insisted that the Nicene term Homoousios was necessary to formulate correctly the truth of Christ's Scriptural revelation. He was also the biographer of St. Antony of Egypt. This biography was devoted to the single combat of the hermit against the powers of evil. He died beloved and triumphant, on May 15, 373 AD.
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