St. Paul

The Life of Paulus was written in the year 374 or 375 by SaintJerome while he was staying in the desert of Syria. Paulus of Thebes was born around 227 in the Thebes of Egypt.
There has been a lot of discussion about who was the first monk to lead a hermit life. Some people look back in time and say that Elias and John were the first monks, but Elias was more than a monk, and John began to prophesy before he was born. Others think that Antony was the first monk to live this way, and this view is partly true.
Amathus and Macarius, two of Antony’s disciples, asserted that Paul of Thebes was the first person to become a monk and the leader in the movement, though not the first to bear the name. This opinion has my approval also.
As they think it fit, some circulate stories like this — that he was a man living in an underground cave with flowing hair down to his feet. They invent many incredible tales that would be useless to detail. Nor does the opinion of men who lie without any sense of shame seem worthy of refutation. So then, since both Greek and Roman writers have handed down careful accounts of Antony, I have determined to write a short history of Paul’s early and latter days. No one has discovered what his middle life was like or what Satan’s snares he experienced.
St. Paul Goes to the Desert
Paul and his married sister were orphaned at the age of sixteen. He was heir to a rich inheritance, highly skilled in Greek and Egyptian learning, and gifted with a gentle disposition and a deep love for God. Amid the thunders of persecution, he was forced to hide in a friend's house. His brother-in-law sought to betray him to the persecutors to obtain Paul's inheritance. Paulus fled to the Theban desert as a young man. He planned to return once the persecution ended, but the sweetness of solitude and heavenly contemplation convinced him to stay.
Life in the Desert
For 90 years living in a cave, he drank from a nearby spring; a palm tree furnished him with clothing and nourishment. After 21 years of solitude, a bird began bringing him half of a loaf of bread each day. Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed that the world would become a better place.
We do not know anything about St. Paul during this time of solitude except the one saying we received through St. Anthony: “He who flees from temptation, flees from God”
St. Anthony Searches for St. Paul
God led Saint Anthony to find Paulus. At St. Anthony approached the cave, the blessed Paul heard him approach and closed the open door with a bar. Then Anthony sat on the ground until the sixth hour begging to meet Paul, saying, “Who I am, and why I have come, you know. I know I am not worthy to look upon you: yet unless I see you I will not go away. You welcome beasts: why not a man? I asked and I have found: I knocked that it may be opened to me. But if I do not succeed, I will die here at your door. You will surely bury me when I am dead.”
Such was his constant cry with persistence.  St. Paul finally answered him:
“Prayers like these do not mean threats; there is no trickery in tears. Are you surprised at my not welcoming you when you have come here to die?” With smiles Paul gave him access, and they threw themselves into each other's arms, greeted one another by name, and joined in thanksgiving to God.
The raven that day brought a whole loaf of bread instead of the usual half then they continued speaking about the glories of God and passed the night in vigil.

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