An Order taking its rise from the life and habits of Saint Anthony, the hermit, who died about 357. His disciples, called Anchorites, near Ethiopia, lived in austerity and solitariness in the desert, until John, Emperor of Ethiopia, in 370, created them a religious order of knighthood, and bestowed privileges upon them under the title of Saint Anthony, who was made patron of the empire. They established monasteries, adopted a black habit, and wore a blue cross in the shape of a Tau. The vow of the Order embraced chastity, defense of the Christian faith, to guard the empire, obey their superiors, and go to war when and wheresoever commanded. Marriage required a license. There were two classes--combatants and non-combatants-- the second class being composed of those too old for military duty. yet ere they retired they were required to serve three years against Arabian pirates, three against the Turks, and three against the Moors.
The ancient monastery is in the deserts of Thebais, surrounded by an oval wall five hundred paces in circumference and forty feet in height. It is entered by ropes let down from the watch- house, the crane being turned by monks. By age, the cells, which are four by five by seven feet, have been reduced from three hundred to forty. Advantage had been taken of one of nature's curiosities in obtaining abundant water from a riven rock, which is reached through a subterraneous passage of fifty paces, extending beyond the walls. In France, Italy, and Spain there are ecclesiastical and military organizations styled Knights of Saint Anthony, who wear a plain cross, the principals a double cross. The chief seat is at Vienna. In the Abbey rest the remains of Saint Anthony.
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