He later moved to an abandoned fort high in the mountains where for 20 years he didn’t see another person. He was the legendary Holy Man in the mountains whom people began to seek for counsel. It was said that his face glowed with radiant happiness.
When Christians were being persecuted and thrown into prison he left the mountains to comfort them and because of who he was and the holiness he exuded, he himself was never arrested. He then returned to the desert and founded a monastery where he took care of his pets and garden for 45 years, living to the age of 105. He read no books saying that it was nature which spoke to him of God.
I have an elderly friend from Mexico who told me that on St. Anthony’s feast day, when my friend was a child, they would paint their pets, animals and livestock, dress them up in clothes and wreaths of flowers, then bring them to the church for a blessing.
In my state, if you painted your pet, you’d go to prison for ten years under Buster’s Law.