St. Paul of Thebes

Considered one of the earliest Christian hermits, born in the 3rd century, Paul fled the persecutions of the Roman emperor, Decius. He lived in a cave for 60-90 years, depending on the source, and during his time in the desert he met up with Anthony the Great, who witnessed Paul's soul being lifted up to heaven.

St. Mary of Egypt

As a young woman, Mary was a prostitute in the city of Alexandria. After eventually persuading some sailors to take her to the Holy Land, she confessed her sins and was guided by the Virgin Mary to live out the rest of her life in the Jordanian wilderness. Spending 40 years alone, she eventually met and told the future Pope Zosimus about her life. He gave her communion. After her death, a lion appeared and dug her grave with its paws, as witnessed by Zosimus.

St. Marana of Beroea

Although not much is known about this 5th-century Syrian saint, she is said to have lived a strict ascetic life, walled up in a house in the Italian city of Beroea.

St. Alexander of Jerusalem

During the persecution of Christians in his Palestinian region, this 3rd-century saint decided to publicly proclaim his faith. He was tortured and thrown in front of wild beasts. They refused to attack him so Alexander was taken away and kept in chains, where he died in 251.

St. Priscus of Caesarea

Similarly to Alexander, this 3rd-century hermit was martyred for his faith. After publicly declaring his faith, he was thrown into an amphitheater of beasts, along with Alexander, where he was killed during the persecutions by Emperor Valerian.

St. Anthony the Great

Born in 251, Anthony was orphaned aged 18. He sold off all his belongings to follow Jesus as a hermit in the desert. Considered the "Father of Monks," Anthony warded off Satan during his time alone in the desert and lived to the great old age of 105.

Pope St. Celestine V

This 13th-century Bishop of Rome was a reluctant pope. In fact, during a time of an impasse in the papal elections, Celestine (also known as Peter of Morrone) was forced away from his hermit lifestyle to take up position as pope. He found the papal life difficult to assume and eventually resigned five months later to return to his humble lifestyle. He was imprisoned to prevent him from assuming the position of antipope, and died aged 81.

St. Sancha of Portugal

The daughter of King Sancho I, this 13th-century saint gave up her life of riches to concentrate on charity work. She founded a Cistercian monastery where she remained in her cell before dying in her late thirties.

St. Gerasimus of the Jordan

Like so many hermits, Gerasimus gave up a wealthy lifestyle to live a life of solitude in the Jordanian desert. However, others were impressed by his lifestyle and followed him. He built a monastery where monks had to live a strict ascetic life. It is Gerasimus who famously pulled a thorn from a lion's paw. The lion became his companion and was distraught at his master's death, lying on his grave and eventually dying himself a few days later.

St. Moses the Hermit

Also referred to as Moses the Black, this 4th-century Desert Father abandoned his criminal life when he was on the run from the authorities. Hiding with monks, he was so impressed with them he decided to become a Christian. Perhaps due to his own previous lifestyle, Moses found it very difficult to condemn the sins of others and became a spiritual leader to a group of hermits. He gave his life protecting others from a group of bandits.