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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saint Paul the First Hermit, Confessor

January 15, Saint Paul the First Hermit, Confessor

According to an ancient book, edited by Saint Jerome, the life of this Paul, the first Hermit, and the model of all others, was on this wise. He was a native of the Lower Thebaid in Egypt. At the age of fifteen he lost both his parents, and to serve God in quietness, betook himself to a cave in the desert, where was a palm 
St.Paul the Hermit
tree, on the fruit of which he lived, and of whose leaves he made his raiment until he attained the age of 113 years. At that time Anthony, being himself ages ninety years, received a command from God to go and see him. And thus they met without knowing one another’s names ; but after mutual salutations, they fell straightway into a long discourse concerning the kingdom of God. Now it so happened that a raven had for sixty years brought Paul every day half a loaf, but on this day while they spake together he brought a whole one. * When the raven had flown away, they asked a blessing, and ate together, sitting by a spring. When they were refreshed, they returned thanks, and afterwards spent the whole night praising God. At the break of day Paul felt the approach of death, and desired Anthony to go and fetch, for his winding-sheet, a cloak which Athanasius had given to this same Anthony. On his way back from his journey, Anthony saw in a vision the soul of Paul ascending to heaven, surrounded by choirs o9f Angels, and accompanied the Prophets and Apostles. * when Anthony reached the cell of Paul, he found there the dead body of the Saint, which he wrapped in the cloak of Athanasius ; and then he immediately began to chant the Psalms and hymns ordained by Christian tradition. Whereafter, having no spade to dig a grave, two lions came racing from the desert as though to attend the burying, and scratched a hole big enough to hold a man’s body, shewing meanwhile such signs of grief as their nature alloweth. When they were gone away, Anthony put the holy body in this hole, covered it with earth, and arranged it like a Christian’s grave. But he took away for himself Paul’s tunic, which he had woven out of the palm-leaves somewhat after the manner of basket-work, and this tunic Anthony was in the habit of wearing the great days of the Passion and Pentecost as long as he lived. The date of holy Paul’s death is set at the year 342.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly feast of thy Confessor Saint Paul the Hermit, mercifully grant that as we now observe his heavenly birthday, so we may follow him in all virtuous and godly living, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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