Saint of the Day ~ January 15

SAINT PAUL THE HERMIT (c.228-342), holy man – Patron saint of weavers and the clothing industry

Today, the Church honors Saint Paul the Hermit (also called Saint Paul of Thebes), who is reported to be the first person to embrace the solitary, hermitic life style, devoting himself to a life of prayerful contemplation.

As one researches the history of this holy man, it is unclear how much is fable and how much is fact. Saint Jerome wrote Paul’s biography, and Paul is traditionally considered to be the first saint living the solitary life.

Paul was born about the year 228 in Alexandria, Egypt, of wealthy and noble parents and orphaned at the age of fifteen. During the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius in 250, and fearing betrayal by family members, young Paul fled into the desert in Thebes by the Red Sea and lived in a cave on the mountain-side. His plan was to return once the persecution ended, but the sweetness of solitude and heavenly contemplation convinced him to remain.

Saint Jerome tells us that Paul lived in the cave for ninety years in prayerful solitude, constant penance, and contemplation of God. A nearby spring gave him water to drink; a palm tree furnished him clothing and nourishment. Legend has it that, after 21 years of solitude, a raven began bringing him half a loaf of bread each day. Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed that the world would become a better place.

Before his death, he was discovered by Saint Anthony the Abbot who spread the news about Paul’s holiness. It is said that Paul died at the age of 113 on January 15, 342, and was buried by the cave where he found holiness in solitude by Anthony on one of his return trips to visit Paul.

The story of Saint Paul is captured in the coat-of-arms of the Order of the Pauline Fathers, who chose Saint Paul the First Hermit as its patron and patriarch, and thus took the name “Pauline Fathers, Monastic Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit”.

We commemorate his feastday on January 15; he is also commemorated in both the Coptic and Armenian rites.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, newadvent.org and paulinefathers.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Pauline Fathers, Monastic Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit)

“O God, who willed that Saint Paul achieve a high degree of sanctity through a life of solitude, prayer and penance in the desert, grant that through his intercession, we, who are striving to develop in ourselves the spirit of prayer and service, may come ever closer to You in love.

“We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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