by Gordon Nary
Temptation of Saint Anthony Hieronymus Bosch
St. Anthony (Antony) is one of the most important and celebrated saints of the Orthodox Church. Anthony was a third century Egyptian mystic who is credited with the founding of monastic life. He is one of the few early saints whose life is well documented by his contemporaries including a biography, The Life of SaintAnthony, by St. Athanasius who knew him personally.
This book is the basis for the famous visions or temptations of St. Anthony which have been portrayed in various media by artists for more than fifteen hundred years. There have been plays, ballets, and paintings by hundreds of artists, and films, and novels, including The Temptation of Saint Anthony, by Gustave Flaubert which he spent nearly forty years writing and rewriting,
Here is Flaubert's description of one of these visions:
"His sons came -- hideous, covered with scales, nauseous as charcoal, howling, hissing, bellowing, flings at each other armour and dead men's bones. Some of them spurted out flames through their nostrils; other spread around darkness with their wings; others carried chaplets of fingers that had been cut off; others drank the venom of serpents out of the hollows of their hands. They have the heads of pigs, rhinoceroses, or toads -- all kinds of figures to inspire respect or terror."
These visions or temptations were probably hallucinatory due to Antony's excessive fasting, sometimes eating a meager ration of bread and water every four days. Many of the visions are similar to those of St. John the Apostle, which are recounted in the Apocalypse (Book of Revelations).
On a more contemporary note, St. Anthony has been popularized as the patron saint of LSD victims, an evocation due to the saint's celebrity in curing ergot poisoning known as St. Anthony's fire, a fungus disease that affected rye crops and caused thousands of deaths during the Middle Ages. St. Anthony, or St. Antoine as he is known in France, was also the name saint*of Antoine Alciotore, founder of New Orleans' famous Antoine's restaurant. The famous chef created one of the restaurant's specialties, Toast St. Antoine, to honor this saint.
I suggest watching the silent film La tentation de Saint-Antoine (1898) on YouTube while enjoying Toast St. Antoine.
Toast St. Antoine
2 TB butter 2 TB grated Romano cheese 1 cup chopped green onions 2 TB grated Mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup white wine 1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs 2 cups crabmeat salt and ground white pepper to taste 1/2 cup Béchamel Sauce* 6 toast slices, trimmed of crusts 2 TB grated Swiss cheese 12 anchovy fillets
1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. Sauté the green onions in the butter until they become limp. Add the white wine and crabmeat and bring to a boil. Blend in the Béchamel Sauce, the grated cheeses, and 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Continue cooking until the mixture can hold its own shape. Cool slightly.
4. Divide into six equal parts and shape into balls. Roll the balls in breadcrumbs and place them on the toast. Cross 2 anchovy fillets over the top of each and bake for 15 minutes.