January 17 is St Antony’s Day – the feast day of St Antony of Egypt, remembered for the temptations he suffered during his twenty years of solitude in the desert. He is regarded as the father of monasticism – that’s monasteries and monks and stuff…. – having founded various communities of hermits in the latter part of his very long life (c. 251 – 356 AD). In 1089, several centuries after his death, he was credited with preventing a serious epidemic of erysipelas by curing sufferers who visited his shrine. The inflammatory skin disease became known as ‘St Antony’s fire’.
The patron saint of domestic animals, especially pigs, St Antony has a pig and a bell as his emblems.
Famous birthdays today include the US boxer Muhammed Ali (1942) and English poet and novelist Anne Brontë (1820), and in 1995, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale hit the city of Kobe, Japan. The tremors lasted for approximately 20 seconds. The focus of the earthquake was located 16 km beneath its epicentre, on the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from the city of Kobe.