St Paul the hermit was the first well-known Christian hermit, he found himself in danger of persecution of Decius. Paul’s friend found him a house to hide in, but his brother-in-law had planned to betray him for his inheritance. For this reason Paul fled into the dessert where he hid in the caves. He dressed only in a garment made of palm leaves. He grew to love the solitary life, he lived by a stream which provided him with water. He prayed and his love of God helped him survive. Until he was 43 all he had to eat was the fruit of the palm tree. Then so St. Jerome tells us, a Raven began to bring him half a loaf of bread a day. St. Antony at the age of 90 decided to visit St Paul, that day a Raven brought a full loaf of bread. Paul died at the age of 113, St Antony found him stretched out in prayer. For sometime Antony prayed beside him before he realised that Paul was dead. For the rest or his life Antony cherished Paul’s palm leave clothing and wore it himself on important church feasts.
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