Saint Athanasius was born to a Christian family in Alexandria in 295. He was ordained the bishop of Alexandria before he reached his thirtieth birthday, and became a leader of the Church even before that.
At the time that Athanasius was serving the previous bishop, a local priest, Arius, spread the heresy that would be named for him. Arius claimed that Jesus Christ was not as divine as God Himself, and not the Son of God. Athanasius denounced Arianism immediately, and continued to denounce it as he was made bishop and throughout the rest of his life. Athanasius emphasized that the Incarnation is the beginning of salvation, that God became man by nature, so that man can become divine by grace. For some time, Athanasius struggled with the false accusations Arius’ followers made against him, but he finally finished out his life in peace in Alexandria.
He reposed in peace in 373. Together with Saint Cyril of Alexandria, he is commemorated on January 18 by the Eastern Orthodox, May 2 by the West, and May 15 by the Coptic Orthodox.