91. But he, knowing the custom, and fearing that his body would be treated this way, hastened, and having bidden farewell to the monks in the outer mountain entered the inner mountain, where he was accustomed to abide. And after a few months he fell sick. Having summoned those who were there -- they were two in number who had remained in the mountain fifteen years, practising the discipline and attending on Antony on account of his age -- he said to them, I, as it is written , go the way of the fathers, for I perceive that I am called by the Lord. And do you be watchful and destroy not your long discipline, but as though now making a beginning, zealously preserve your determination. For ye know the treachery of the demons, how fierce they are, but how little power they have. Wherefore fear them not, but rather ever breathe Christ, and trust Him. Live as though dying daily. Give heed to yourselves, and remember the admonition you have heard from me. Have no fellowship with the schismatics, nor any dealings at all with the heretical Arians. For you know how I shunned them on account of their hostility to Christ, and the strange doctrines of their heresy. Therefore be the more earnest always to be followers first of God and then of the Saints; that after death they also may receive you as well-known friends into the eternal habitations. Ponder over these things and think of them, and if you have any care for me and are mindful of me as of a father, suffer no one to take my body into Egypt, lest haply they place me in the houses , for to avoid this I entered into the mountain and came here. Moreover you know how I always put to rebuke those who had this custom, and exhorted them to cease from it. Bury my body, therefore, and hide it underground yourselves, and let my words be observed by you that no one may know the place but you alone. For at the resurrection of the dead I shall receive it incorruptible from the Saviour. And divide my garments. To Athanasius the bishop give one sheepskin and the garment whereon I am laid, which he himself gave me new, but which with me has grown old. To Serapion the bishop give the other sheepskin, and keep the hair garment yourselves . For the rest fare ye well, my children, for Antony is departing, and is with you no more.' f Josh. xxiii.14.
Cf. St. Aug. Serm.361.12, D.C.A. p.251.
The body of Antony was discovered by a revelation' in 561, and translated to Alexandria. When the Saracens conquered Egypt it was transferred to Constantinople, and lastly in the tenth century was carried to Vienne by a French Seigneur. The first and last links of this history are naturally precarious. The translation to Alexandria is vouched for by Victor of Tunis (Chron.) who was in the neighbourhood at the time.
Jerome, in his life of Paul of Thebes, relates that Antony received from Paul, and ever afterwards wore on festivals, his tunic of palm-leaves. If this legacy more glorious than the purple of a king' (Vit. Paul. c.13) had any existence, it would certainly not have been forgotten by Antony in disposing of his worldly goods. The silence of the Life of Antony throws discredit on Jerome's whole account of Paul.