Athanasius was born in Trebizond of God-fearing parents. He became orphaned at an early age but, by the Providence of God, a commander took him under his care and brought him to Constantinople to be educated. Because of his meekness and humbleness, he was the favorite of his peers. During the children's games, the children chose one to be an emperor, one a commander and Athanasius as abbot as though it was some kind of foretelling! Having completed his education, Athanasius (who before tonsuring was called Abraham) withdrew into the desert of Maleinos near Athos, the Holy Mountain, where he lived the life of an ascetic as a disciple of the then renowned Michael Maleinos. Desiring a more difficult life of mortification, Athanasius settled on Holy Mt. Athos to live in silence (the life of a silentary). But many who were desirous of a life of asceticism began to gather around him and, therefore, he was compelled to build his famous Lavra [monastery]. In that, he was assisted by the Byzantine emperors: at first, Nicephorus Phocas, who himself thought to withdraw and to become a monk and, after him, John Tzimiskes.
The Angels' ranks were awed by thy life in the flesh, how, though corporeal, and clad with earthly clay, thou didst set forth with courage to invisible wars and wrestlings and didst boldly smite the hordes of the demons with mortal wounds. Wherefore, Christ rewarded thee with abundant gifts in return. Entreat Him that our souls find salvation, O most renowned Father Athanasius.
The yoke of thy Christ, thou tookest on thyself with faith, while bearing thy cross upon thy shoulders as a true and unrivalled emulator of His dread Passion and sharer of His great glory, partaking of divine and unending joy, O Athanasius.