Short Lives of the Saints – Saint Paul, First Hermit

detail from an illustration of Saint Paul the Hermit; design by Abraham Bloemaert, engraving by Boetius à Bolswert, 1619; from the book 'Sylva anachoretica Aegypti et Palaestinae', University Library, Nijmegen, Netherlands; swiped from Wikimedia Commons; click for image sourceEntry

During the violent persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Dacian in the year 250. Saint Paul of the lower Thebaid fled into the desert, and there in prayer and penance lived until he attained the great age of 113 years. Beside a clear brook, in a grotto shaded by a palm-tree, this first hermit spent his peaceful days; and when the palm no longer availed to furnish him with food, a raven brought him from God his daily portion of bread. Saint Anthony came at last to hold a spiritual conference with Paul, and the raven brought him then a double allowance of bread, so that his guest might not remain unsupplied. A few days passed, and Paul slept in the Lord; and two lions came and hollowed out a grave, to which Saint Anthony consigned the blessed corse.

There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
The generation born with them, nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks
Around them.
– William Cullen Bryant

Favorite Practice – To cultivate an unwavering trust in the providence of God.

MLA Citation

  • Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly. “Saint Paul, First Hermit”. Short Lives of the Saints, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 April 2021. Web. 21 April 2021. <>