1 February. Venerable Anton Of Martkophi, The Stylite (6th Century)

In the verdant lands of Georgia during the 6th century, the venerable Anton of Martkopi, accompanied by the Thirteen Syrian Fathers, ventured forth to spread the divine teachings of the Gospel. With him, he bore a sacred icon of the Savior, crafted by divine hands. Choosing the solitude of the wilderness for his abode, Anton found companionship and sustenance in the deer that visited him, providing him with their milk.

On an unusual day, the deer, accompanied by a distressed fawn, sought Anton earlier than usual, signaling unrest. Tracing their path, Anton encountered a nobleman from a nearby village, engaged in a hunt. The sight of Anton, amidst the deer with the holy icon, led the pagan nobleman to mistakenly perceive a threat, decreeing a grim fate for Anton at the hands of a smith.

Yet, as the smith raised his sword, a divine force intervened, rendering him incapacitated, his arms rendered immobile as if turned to wood, and his voice lost to silence. It was only through Anton’s merciful prayer that the smith was restored.

This miraculous event opened the nobleman’s eyes to Anton’s sanctity, prompting him to offer any aid Anton might require. With humility, Anton requested but a fragment of salt for his deer companions, a request that was generously fulfilled.

As news of this miracle spread, many sought Anton’s blessing, leading him to establish a monastery to serve the growing flock of the faithful. However, the weight of this attention drove Anton to seek refuge once more, this time on a mountain’s peak, where he preached from atop a pillar for the final fifteen years of his earthly journey.

Aware of his impending departure from this world, Anton gathered his disciples, imparting his final wisdom before passing into eternal rest before the sacred icon he so cherished. Anton’s remains were laid to rest in the foundation of the monastery he established, forever sanctified by his journey of faith and solitude.

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