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Saint Anthony The Great

Introducing Saint Anthony the Great

Saint Anthony the Great

or as others call him Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius and Father of a all Monks.

Saint Anthony the Great We at 33Knots | want to dedicate a series of post to him. It is said that Saint Anthony is the one who invented the prayer rope we know today. At first he tied simple knots in a rope to count his prayers. But legend has it that after the devil kept undoing the knots and throwing him off his count, he prayed for guidance. It wat then that an angel appeared and learned Saint Anthony how to tie a special knot consisting of seven interlocked crosses that the devil cannot untie and the prayer rope we now hold so dear was born.

Anthony the Great was a Christian saint from Egypt and was a prominent figure among the Fathers. He is even considered to be the first monk, but as his biography and others reveal there were many before him. But however not the first monk he was the first one to go out and travel to unknown destinations to spread the holy word. This together with his biography helped to spread monasticism in Western Europe.

He was born in 285 in Cooma in lower Egypt. He was the son of wealthy parents who died when he was 18, leaving him the sole owner of all the family wealth. In his early thirty’s he started to follow the words of Jesus who said “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me”. Taking these words quite literally. He gave away some of his family estate and the rest he sold to donate to the poor. After doing so he became a disciple of a local hermit.

Saint Anthony was one of the first to fully attempt to live in the desert cut off from civilization and dedicating himself fully to the hermit lifestyle. And if it wasn’t already enough he even headed out into the alkaline desert region called the Nitria west of Alexandria to stay for 13 years, which was one of the most harsh terrains of the Western Desert.

This is all for now, come back to see our follow up post: Saint Anthony The Great the legend and mystique.

Did you know the prayer rope is called a komboskini in Greece and a Brojanica in Serbia.

Saint Anthony the Great inventor of the Prayer Rope, who would have thought?


  1. Michael Cialone

    I have the Greek 100 knot prayer rope. Please tell me what prayers do I say at the beginning–by the tassel section of my prayer rope. I have 4 large beads dividers. Do I say an Our Father on each divider—followed by prostration or just a bow with my hand touching the ground. Thank you!

    1. Hello Michael, there are many ways you can pray using a prayer rope. There is not really a rule stipulating how one should pray. But what most people do is, Each knot signifies a prayer, the divider bead or beads signify a prostration. The prayer rope is excellent for repetitive prayers, you pray and count going from knot to knot and when you reach the diver bead you do a prostration. One very popular prayer that is used with the prayer rope is the Jesus Prayer, we have an article that covers this magnificent prayer:

      But it can ofcourse be used for any prayer, most important thing is that you feel comfortable in the way that you use it.

      Hope this helps.
      Regards and God Bless,

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