Saint Paul the Hermit, a remarkable figure in Christian history, was born in Egypt and tragically orphaned at the tender age of 15. A young man of both learning and devout faith, Paul’s life took a dramatic turn during the Decius persecution in Egypt around 250 AD. Initially seeking refuge in a friend’s home, he soon fled to a desert cave to evade betrayal by a relative.

This temporary hideout became Paul’s permanent abode, as the serenity of solitude and divine meditation captivated him, leading to an astonishing 90 years of hermitic life. Nature provided for his basic needs: a nearby spring for water, a palm tree for food and clothing. Remarkably, after 21 years of isolation, a bird began delivering half a loaf of bread daily, a miraculous sustenance that kept him disconnected yet prayerful for a better world.

St. Anthony, another pillar of monasticism, acknowledges Paul’s sanctity. Challenged by the notion that no one had surpassed him in wilderness devotion, Anthony was divinely guided to discover Paul. On this fateful day, the raven brought a full loaf, signifying the meeting of two spiritual giants. Paul, foreseeing his end, prophesied that Anthony would return to bury him.

Dying at the age of approximately 112, Paul earned the title “First Hermit.” His life is celebrated in the Eastern Christian traditions and commemorated in both the Coptic and Armenian rites, marking his profound impact on Christian monasticism.

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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