Anthony the Great
Lunettes, plaques and ceramic tiles of St. Anthony the Abbot
La Vecchia Faenza produces artistic ceramics of various types – lunette, plate or tile – depicting Saint Anthony the Abbot represented according to traditional iconography. Among the identifying elements the monk’s habit, the tau-shaped stick (T-cross) with the hanging bell, the fire, the presence of the piglet and other farm and domestic animals, the book of the Holy Scriptures in hand and open .
These are ceramics designed for hanging on the wall or for placing in external niches, they are in fact resistant to the sun and bad weather.
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The cult of Saint Anthony in Romagna and in Italy
On January 17 we celebrate the liturgical feast of Anthony the Great, protector of animals, of butchers and salami, of farmers and breeders, and of workers with fire such as bakers, firefighters and also of us potters. On the occasion of the feast of the saint, it is traditional to bless animals (domestic and otherwise), stables, ovens and workplaces.
Revered throughout Italy, the devotion to Anthony the Abbot in Romagna it is widespread especially in rural areas, where it is easy to come across plaques, lunettes or ceramic tiles affixed to the outside of stables and shelters for animals, on the kennels of pets or above the door of houses, to protect the domestic hearth.
In Romagna it is tradition to give a piece of blessed bread – the one that is distributed at the end of the mass of Sant’Antonio – to animals, especially to sick ones.
Saint Anthony the Abbot known as Saint Anthony of Egypt: biographical notes
Anthony the Abbot is considered the founder of Christian monasticism and the first of the abbots; he is one of the four Fathers of the Eastern Church who bear the title of “Great”, for this reason he is also known as Saint Anthony the Great.
He was born in Qumans (Egypt) in 251 into a family of wealthy Christian farmers. Orphaned at a young age, he sold everything and retired to the desert to lead the life of an anchorite, dedicating himself to prayer in poverty and chastity. The long period of hermitage ended when a group of followers decided to stay close to him: then he began his activity as a healer and exorcist, which is why today he is invoked against herpes zoster, commonly known as St. Anthony’s fire.
He died on January 17, 356 in the Thebaid desert at the age of 105. His life is narrated in the hagiographic work Vita Antonii, written by his disciple Athanasius of Alexandria.
Prayer to St. Anthony the Abbot
Below is an ancient prayer to Saint Anthony the Abbot which is traditionally printed in support of the images of the saint to be posted in places where his protection is invoked.
O Saint of the Thebaid, glorious Abbot Anthony, we entrust our souls to you, so that they can overcome the temptations of hell, as you gloriously overcame.
To you, who can do so much with the Lord, we commend our bodies to be healthy; our houses so that the fire will spare them; our fields so that they are safe from all danger and bear abundant fruit; our herds so that, freed from any injury, they serve us and give us advantages.
Bless, oh glorious Anthony, our souls, our bodies, our substances.