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St. Anton of Martqopi

St. Anton of Martqopi by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artwork Narrative:

St. Anton is one of the 13 Syrian monks who traveled from Mesopotamia to the kingdom of Georgia to preach the Gospel of Christ.  Wherever he traveled, he carried an icon of the Savior "Not Made By Hands."  Because he loved solitude, he went off on his own once the group reached Georgia.  He settled in a remote mountainous area called Kakheti, where deer visited him every evening and nourished him with their milk.

One day the deer came earlier than usual, with a wounded faun.  Supposing that something had frightened them, he retraced their path and found a band of hunters, led by a pagan nobleman.  The nobleman accused him of trespassing on his hunting grounds and ordered one of his followers to cut the monk's hands off.  When the man raised his sword, however, he became paralyzed.  The saint made the sign of the cross over him and he was healed.  In gratitude, the nobleman gave St. Anton permission to live on his mountain and offered him any other gift he might request.  St. Anton simply asked for a block of salt for his deer.

After this incident, the people in the region began to come to the saint for baptism.  In time he founded a monastery, where he presided as spiritual father.  At the end of his life he left the monastery in search of more solitude.  He lived the last 15 years of his life on top of a stone column on a nearby mountain peak.

His feast day is January 19.

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When God revealed to Fr. Anton the day of his repose, the monk-stylite gathered his pupils, imparted to them a few last words of wisdom, blessed them, and died on his knees in front of his beloved icon.

St. Anton’s body was taken down from the pillar and buried in the monastery that he had founded, before the icon of the Theotokos.

O Holy Father Anton, who didst bring to the Georgian people the icon of the Savior “Not-Made-By-Hands,” save those who pray unto thee!