One of the first known desert solitaries, Paul the hermit was born around the year 227. He is also called Paul of Thebes, since he is thought to be a native of Thebaid in southern Egypt.
It is believed that Paul took up his life of solitude in the Egyptian desert to escape religious persecution under the Roman Emperor Decius. In his Saharan refuge, Paul lived a life of constant prayer, penance and meditation in a small cave, eating only the fruit of a palm tree which grew near his hermitage.
At the age of 43, according to some accounts, Paul began to receive rations of bread from a raven who continued supplying the hermits meals daily until the end of his life.
When Paul was a very old man, he was visited by another famous hermit, Anthony of Egypt. According to tradition, after Pauls death Anthony was wondering how to bury him in the desert when two lions appeared and dug a grave for the saints body. Many paintings of Paul the hermit show him flanked by lions.
His feast day is January 15.