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Saturday 31 July |
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Saint Paul the Hermit

Celebrated as the First Christian Hermit


Public Domain

(d. ca. 345)

His life

+ What we know of the life of Saint Paul comes to us from an account of his life written by Saint Jerome.

+ Although scholars are uncertain what elements of Jerome’s account are historically accurate and which are stylized presentation of the lives of the desert hermits, Saint Paul the Hermit was a very popular saint—especially in the Eastern Church—throughout the Middle Ages and was often depicted and honored with Saint Anthony the Abbot (celebrated on January 17).

+ According to Jerome, Paul was born in Lower Egypt and was orphaned as a teenager. During the persecutions of the Emperor Decius, he fled to the desert for safety.

+ When the persecution ended, he continued his solitary life of prayer and reflection and lived as a hermit for another ninety years. Saint Anthony visited Paul shortly before the latter’s death and buried him in a grave that had been dug by lions.

+ The Eastern Churches celebrate the feast of Saint Paul the Hermit on January 15 and his name is included in the Coptic and Armenian rites of the Mass.

Spiritual bonus

On this day the Church also honors Blessed Ana of the Angels Monteagudo, a Dominican nun of the monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in Arequipa, Peru. After serving her community as novice mistress and prioress, she died in 1686 and was beatified in 1985.

For reflection

“The just will rejoice and take refuge in the Lord; / and all the upright will glory in their God.”—Psalm 64:11


O God, you gladden us by the annual feast of Blessed Paul, Your Confessor; mercifully grant that we may imitate his example, whose heavenly birthday we celebrate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal [1962 edition])

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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