c.296-373. Champion of orthodoxy against Arianism.* Born to wealthy parents, he was Egyptian by birth but Greek by education. In the excellent catechetical school of Alexandria he was deeply moved by the martyrdoms of Christians during the last persecutions and was profoundly influenced by Alexander,* bishop of Alexandria, by whom he was ordained deacon. Of small stature but keen mind, Athanasius took no official part in the proceedings of the [[Council of Nicea]] (325), but as secretary to Alexander his notes, circulars, and encyclicals written on behalf of his bishop had an important effect on the outcome. He was a clear-minded and skilled theologian, a prolific writer with a journalist's instinct for the power of the pen, and a devout Christian-which endeared him to the large Christian public of Alexandria and the the vast majority of the clergy and monks of Egypt.