Who was Saint Paul the First Hermit?

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St Paul the First Hermit

St Paul the Hermit should not be confused with St Paul the Apostle. St Paul the Hermit is traditionally considered the first saint living a solitary life. He was born around 228 to wealthy and noble parents in Alexandria, Egypt.

St Paul the First Hermit
St Paul the First Hermit

During the persecution of the Christians by Caesar Decius in 250, young Paul fled to the Desert in Thebes by the Red Sea and learned to enjoy his solitary life “alone with God alone,” so much that he remained there for the rest of his life. He lived nearly ninety years in prayerful solitude, constant penance, and contemplation of God. Then, before he died, he was discovered by St Anthony the Abbot, who spread the news about his holiness.

It is believed that St Paul was kept alive by the fruit of a palm tree and by a raven which brought him a piece of bread daily. He died at the age of 113, when, as related by St Anthony, two lions dug a grave for him.

This story is captured in the coat-of-arms of the Order, showing the palm tree, two lions and a raven. The Pauline Order chose St. Paul the First Hermit as its Patron and Patriarch and thus took the name “Order of St. Paul the First Hermit”.

The Order solemnly observes the feast of St. Paul on January 15th.

In a spirit of appreciation, the Pauline Fathers offer yearly a novena of prayers in honour of St. Paul the Hermit for all their benefactors, friends and supporters.

Prayer to Saint Paul the Hermit

God, you granted that Saint Paul, our Father,
achieved sanctity in the desert,
grant through his intercession,
that we, who are striving to develop
in ourselves a spirit of prayer and service,
may come ever closer to you in love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.