Episode One: St. Athanasius of Alexandria

Bishop of Alexandria, theologian, and a firm adherent of Christian orthodoxy in the fourth century, Athanasius was a native of Alexandria, Egypt. Given the finest training in the Faith, he became a deacon and then secretary to Alexander, bishop of Alexandria. In the face of the heresy of Arianism that denied the divinity of Christ, he went with Alexander to the Council of Nicaea in 325 and helped in the condemnation of Arianism. Three years later, Athanasius succeeded Alexander as bishop. Over the next decades he emerged as the champion against a resurgent Arianism. This made him an enemy the Arian party in the Eastern Empire, especially the emperors who embraced its tenets. Athanasius was exiled five times over twenty years. He faced exile and humiliation, lonely years in the frozen north of Germany and in the burning heat of the Egyptian desert. He hid among the tombs of his family. Only in his last years did he finally know peace, and he spent them bringing peace to the city and the Christian community. His efforts at defeating Arianism helped lay the groundwork for the triumph of orthodox Christianity at the Council of Constantinople in 381, years after Athanasius' death. Athanasius authored numerous works, including defenses of orthodox doctrine and treatises, particularly De Incarnatione. His feast day in the West is May 2.