Anthony, Saint (circa 250–350), Egyptian monk. St. Anthony is regarded as the founder of Christian monasticism. From the age of 20 he practiced an ascetic life, living in absolute solitude on mountains or in the desert. He occasionally emerged from his seclusion in order to instruct and organize the monastic life of other hermits who had imitated him or to preach against heresies. He is the patron saint of swineherds, and in the art of the Middle Ages he is shown with a small pig at his side. Since pork fat was used to dress the wounds of skin diseases, he became the saint of those who care for the sick, and skin diseases such as erysipelas and ergotism became known as Saint Anthony's fire.