15 January 2011
Saint Paul the First Hermit
According to Saint Jerome's description of Saint Paul (written in the Syrian Desert in A.D. 374 or 375) Saint Paul was born in the area of Thebes, Egypt in about A.D. 227. He was the son of wealthy family, but his parents died while he was still a teenager. Saint Jerome describes Saint Paul as a young man "gifted with a gentle disposition and a deep love for God."
During the persecution of Decius and Valerianus (about A.D. 250) Saint Paul fled to the Theban Desert where he took refuge in a cave near a clear spring and a palm tree. For the rest of his life, Saint Paul would remain in that cave, taking his only food from the nearby spring and palm tree until, at about the age of 43, a raven began daily bringing Saint Paul about a half a loaf of bread. Saint Paul lived in the cave for nearly 100 years. He died in A.D. 341 at an age of about 114.
The fame of Saint Paul spread quickly in the ancient Christian world and the hermetic life became popular, especially in the Balkan countries of Hungary and Croatia. The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (the Pauline Fathers) was founded in Hungary in honor of Saint Paul in the thirteenth century.
you led Saint Paul of Thebes into the desert
that he might put aside all worldly cares
and focus on a life of holiness.
Through the example of his life
of solitude, prayer and penance,
grant that we, who are striving to develop in ourselves
the spirit of prayer and service,
may come ever closer to you in love.
We make our prayer through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.