Friday, January 15, 2010

Paul of Thebes (229- 345)

Commonly known as Paul the First Hermit or Paul the Anchorite  is regarded as the first Christian hermit. His feast day is celebrated on January 10 in the west, and on January 5 or January 15 in the east.

Paul was reportedly born in Egypt. He was orphaned by age 15.  Young Paul was learned, devout  and fluent in Greek and  Egyptian.

According to Jeome's Vitae Patrum (Vita Pauli primi eremitae) Paul fled to the Theban desert during the persecution of Decius and Valernaius in c. 250. He lived in the mountains of the Theban desert in a cave near a palm tree surviveing on fruits and water. It is said that as time passed a crow or raven brought him half a loaf of bread daily.

Jerome further relates the meeting of Anthony of Egypt and Paul, when the latter was aged 113. They conversed with each other for one day and one night. When Anthony next visited him, Paul was dead. Anthony clothed him in a tunic which was a present from Anthanasius and buried him with the help of two lions.

1st Painting: Jusepe de Ribera's St. Paul the Hermit.

2nd  Painting: Diego Velázquez. St. Anthony Abbot and St. Paul the Hermit. 

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