Paul of Thebes

Last updated
San Pablo Ermitano, por Jose de Ribera.jpg
Saint Paul, "The First Hermit", Jusepe de Ribera, Museo del Prado (1640)
The First Hermit
Bornc. 227 AD
Diedc. 342 AD
Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite, Egypt
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Anglican Communion
Major shrine Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite, Egypt
Attributes Two lions, palm tree, raven

Paul of Thebes, commonly known as Paul, the First Hermit or Paul the Anchorite, or in Egyptian Arabic as Anba Bola, Coptic : Ⲁⲃⲃⲁ Ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲉ; (c. 226/27 – c. 341) is regarded as the first Christian hermit, who was claimed to have lived alone in the desert from the age of sixteen to one hundred thirteen years of his age. He is not to be confused with Paul the Simple, who was a disciple of Anthony the Great. He is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church as well as the Orthodox Church. [3] [4]



Relics in Santa Maria in Porto, in Ravenna. Relics of Saint Paul the First Hermit - Santa Maria in Porto - Ravenna 2016.jpg
Relics in Santa Maria in Porto , in Ravenna.

The story of him is told in the book Life of Saint Paul the First Hermit (Vitae Patrum (Vita Pauli primi eremitae)) was composed in Latin by Saint Jerome, probably in 375–376. [5] Paul of Thebes was born around 227 in the Thebaid of Egypt. [6]

Paul and his married sister lost their parents. In order to obtain Paul's inheritance, his brother-in-law sought to betray him to the persecutors. [5] According to Jerome's Vitae Patrum (Vita Pauli primi eremitae [7] ), Paul fled to the Theban desert as a young man during the persecution of Decius and Valerianus around AD 250. [8]

He lived in the mountains of this desert in a cave near a clear spring and a palm tree, the leaves of which provided him with clothing and the fruit of which provided him with his only source of food until he was 43 years old, when a raven started bringing him half a loaf of bread daily. He would remain in that cave for the rest of his life, almost a hundred years. [6]

Paul of Thebes' visit at Anthony the Great Remete Szent Pal latogatasa Remete Szent Antalnal.png
Paul of Thebes’ visit at Anthony the Great
Saint Anthony the Great and Saint Paul the Anchorite, Diego Velazquez, circa 1634 Diego Velazquez 010.jpg
Saint Anthony the Great and Saint Paul the Anchorite, Diego Velázquez, circa 1634

Paul of Thebes is known to posterity because around the year 342, Anthony the Great was told in a dream about the older hermit's existence, and went to find him. [9] Jerome related that Anthony the Great and Paul met when the latter was aged 113. They conversed with each other for one day and one night. The Synaxarium shows each saint inviting the other to bless and break the bread, as a token of honor. Paul held one side, putting the other side into the hands of Father Anthony, and soon the bread broke through the middle and each took his part. When Anthony next visited him, Paul was dead. Anthony clothed him in a tunic which was a present from Athanasius of Alexandria and buried him, with two lions helping to dig the grave. [9]

Father Anthony returned to his monastery taking with him the robe woven with palm leaf. [9] He honored the robe so much that he only wore it twice a year: at the Feast of Easter, and at the Pentecost. [6]


His feast day is celebrated on January 15 in the West, on January 5 or January 15 in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and on 2 Meshir (February 9) in the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Anthony described him as "the first monk".

Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite (Deir Anba Bola) is traditionally believed to be on the site of the cave where Paul lived and where his remains are kept. [10] The monastery is located in the eastern desert mountains of Egypt near the Red Sea. The Cave Church of St. Paul marks the spot where Anthony, "the Father of Monasticism", and Paul, "the First Hermit", are believed to have met. [11]

He is also the patron saint of the Diocese of San Pablo (Philippines) and is the titular of the Cathedral of the said Diocese in San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines.

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit [12] was founded in Hungary in his honour in the 13th century. He is usually represented with a palm tree, two lions and a raven.

See also


  1. "In Thebais, the birthday of St. Paul, the first hermit, who lived alone in the desert from the age of sixteen to one hundred thirteenth years of his age. ...His feast is celebrated on the 15th of this month." [1]

Related Research Articles

Anthony the Great Christian saint, monk, and hermit

Saint Anthony or Antony, was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a saint. He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony such as Anthony of Padua, by various epithets of his own: Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Antony the Abbot,Anthony of the Desert,Anthony the Anchorite, and Anthony of Thebes. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism, he is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on 17 January among the Orthodox and Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Coptic calendar.

Pachomius the Great Egyptian saint

Saint Pachomius, also known as Pachome and Pakhomius, is generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism. Coptic churches celebrate his feast day on 9 May, and Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches mark his feast on 15 May or 28 May. In the Lutheran Church, the saint is remembered as a renewer of the church, along with his contemporary, Anthony of Egypt on January 17.

Onuphrius Desert father

Onuphrius or Onoufrios, venerated as Saint Onuphrius in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches; Venerable Onuphrius in Eastern Orthodoxy and Saint Nofer the Anchorite in Oriental Orthodoxy, lived as a hermit in the desert of Upper Egypt in the 4th or 5th centuries.

Macarius of Egypt Egyptian Christian monk and hermit

Macarius of Egypt was a Coptic Christian monk and hermit. He is also known as Macarius the Elder, Macarius the Great and The Lamp of the Desert.

Hilarion anchorite who spent most of his life in the desert

Hilarion the Great (291–371) was an anchorite who spent most of his life in the desert according to the example of Anthony the Great (c. 251–356). While St Anthony is considered to have established Christian monasticism in the Egyptian desert, St Hilarion is considered by some to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism and venerated as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.

Parsoma Egyptian saint

Saint Parsoma the Naked (1257–1317) is a Coptic saint, recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Saint Paul of Tammah was an Egyptian saint who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. He is venerated only in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Gabriel VII of Alexandria was the 95th Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

Pope Macarius III of Alexandria 20th-century Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria

Pope Macarius III of Alexandria , 114th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

Saint Paphnutius the Ascetic, also known as Paphnutius the Hermit, was an Egyptian anchorite of the fourth century. He is most famous for his accounts of the lives of many hermits of the Egyptian desert, such as Saint Onuphrius.

Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit organization

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, known also simply as Pauline Fathers, is a monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in Hungary during the 13th century. Its post-nominal letters are O.S.P.P.E.

Monastery of Saint Anthony Monastery in Egypt

The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery standing in an oasis in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, in the southern part of the Suez Governorate. Hidden deep in the Red Sea Mountains, it is located 334 km (208 mi) southeast of Cairo. It is the oldest monastery in the world. St Anthony himself was the founder of monasticism. The Monastery of Saint Anthony was established by the followers of Saint Anthony, who is the first Christian monk. The Monastery of St. Anthony is one of the most prominent monasteries in Egypt and has strongly influenced the formation of several Coptic institutions, and has promoted monasticism in general. Several patriarchs have come from the monastery, and several hundred pilgrims visit it each day.

Coptic monasticism

Coptic Monasticism is claimed to be the original form of Monasticism as St. Anthony of Egypt became the first one to be called "monk" and he was the first to established a Christian monastery which is now known as the Monastery of Saint Anthony in the Red Sea area. St. Anthony's Monastery is now the oldest monastery in the world.

Saint Fana, also known as Abu Fana, Abu Fanah, or Apa Bane was a Coptic hermit. The Monastery of Saint Fana in the diocese of Mallawi, Upper Egypt, is named after him.

Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite monastery

The Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite in Egypt is a Coptic Orthodox monastery located in the Eastern Desert, near the Red Sea Mountains. It is about 155 km (96 mi) south east of Cairo. The monastery is also known as the Monastery of the Tigers.

Chariton the Confessor Christian saint

Saint Chariton the Confessor is a Christian saint. His remembrance day is September 28.

Pishoy Egyptian desert father

Saint Bishoy, known in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria as the Star of the Desert and the Beloved of our Good Savior, is an Egyptian desert father. He is said to have seen Jesus and that his body is preserved to the present day in incorruptibility at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy at the Natroon Desert, Egypt. He is venerated by the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and is known in the latter under the Greek version of his name, Paisios.

Monastic cell

A cell is a small room used by a hermit, monk, anchorite or nun to live and as a devotional space. They are often part of larger communities such as Catholic and Orthodox monasteries and Buddhist vihara, but may also form stand-alone structures in remote locations.

Saint Thomas the Hermit is a Saint of the Coptic Orthodox Church, he is also known as "Saint Thomas the Anchorite", "Saint Thomas of Shenshif" or simply as "Abba Thomas"[(Coptic word meaning Father) (Αw-ba)Sahidic (Αw-va)Bohairic]. Saint Thomas was born in Upper Egypt, in a small village known as "Shenshif". He is revered by the Coptic Orthodox Church, since he is one of the early Anchorites, or Desert Fathers. Little is commonly known about him.

Eusebius of Esztergom 13th-century Hungarian hermit and religious founder

Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom was a Hungarian canon, hermit and the founder of the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit.


  1. The Roman Martyrology. Transl. by the Archbishop of Baltimore. Last Edition, According to the Copy Printed at Rome in 1914. Revised Edition, with the Imprimatur of His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons. Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1916. p.11.
  2. Great Synaxaristes: (in Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Παῦλος ὁ Θηβαῖος. 15 Ιανουαρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  5. 1 2 "Paul of Thebes, Saint", Guillaumont, Antoine and Kuhn, K. H., The Coptic Encyclopedia, volume 6, Macmillan
  6. 1 2 3 "Venerable Paul of Thebes", Orthodox Church in America
  7. Ed. crit.: Bazyli Degórski (ed.), Edizione critica della "Vita Sancti Pauli Primi eremitae" di Girolamo, Institutum Patristicum "Augustinianum", ROMA 1987; italian translation: Bazyli Degórski (ed.), San Girolamo. Vite degli eremiti: Paolo, Ilarione, Malco [= Collana di Testi Patristici, 126], Città Nuova Editrice, Roma 1996, pp. 63-89.20; Bazyli Degórski (ed.), Hieronymi historica et hagiographica. Vita Beati Pauli monachi Thebaei. Vita Hilarionis. Vita Malchi monachi captivi. Epistula praefatoria in Chronicis Eusebii Caesariensis. Chronicorum Eusebii Caesariensis continuatio. De viris inlustribus. In Regulae S. Pachomii versionem praefatio || Girolamo. Opere storiche e agiografiche. Vita di san Paolo, eremita di Tebe. Vita di Ilarione. Vita di Malco, l’eremita prigioniero. Prefazione alla traduzione delle Cronache di Eusebio di Cesarea. Continuazione delle Cronache di Eusebio di Cesarea. Gli uomini illustri. [= Hieronymi opera, XV || OPERE di Girolamo, XV], Città Nuova, Roma 2014, pp. 73-115
  8. Bacchus, Francis Joseph. "St. Paul the Hermit." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 31 May 2013
  9. 1 2 3 "St. Paul of Thebes, Church's first known hermit, honored Jan. 15". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  10. "Deir Mar Boulos"
  11. "St. Paul's Monastery, Red Sea", The American Research Center in Egypt
  12. "Who was Saint Paul the First Hermit?", Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit Archived 2013-07-01 at