Athanasius became Bishop Alexander of Alexandria’s secretary in 318 after being ordained a deacon.
Around 323, Arius, an ambitious priest of the Alexandrian Church, denied the Divinity of Christ, and began spreading word that Jesus Christ was not truly divine.
Athanasius was present during the great Church debate and stood alongside Alexander during the famous Council of Nicaea, where the Nicene Creed was adopted as the Creed of the Church.
Five months later, Alexander died and Athanasius succeeded him after being unanimously elected. He was consecrated as the new Bishop of Alexandria in 328 and continued the fight against Arianism.
Efforts to get Athanasius impeached began, and he was charged with various crimes.
Even though he proved his innocence, Emperor Constantine commanded Athanasius to go to the Council of Tyre in 335.
Athanasius was exiled for the first time.
After returning to Alexandria two and a half years later, his enemies continued to try to exile him.
He was completely vindicated by a synod called by Pope Julius I, but was unable to return home to Alexandria until the death of the new Cappadocian in 345.
In 353, Athanasius faced more condemnations by the Arians in the councils at Arles, France and again in 355 in Milan, Italy.
The persecutions escalated to physical attacks until Athanasius escaped and hid in the desert with a group of monks for six years.
After returning to Alexandria in 361, he was exiled two more times until Emperor Valens permanently restored him in 364.
Over the course of his life, Athanasius was banished five times and spent 17 years of his life in exile for the defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity.
He died on May 2, 373 in Alexandria.
He is a patron saint of theologians, and faithful Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians.
To this day, Athanasius is hailed as a great Defender of the Faith. His feast day is celebrated on May 2.
To learn more about St. Athanasius: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=336