St. Paul, the first Hermit, Confessor

sotd thumbnailInnocent XIII raised the traditional feast of St. Paul to the rank of a double for the Universal Church.  In the middle of the Third Century, St. Paul, a native of Egypt, fled into the desert, at the age of twenty-two, to escape the persecution that Emperor Decius waged against Christians.  There he devoted his life to penance and prayer.  He passed nearly a hundred years in solitude, and from the time he was forty-tree years old his food was brought to him by ravens.  The emblem of the Hermits of St. Paul was a palm tree; in the Mass of today frequent graceful allusions are made to this providential tree which furnished both food and clothing to our saint, and which by its spreading branches so truly symbolized in Holy Scripture the supernatural energy of the just.  He died about 341, wrapped in the cloak of St. Anthanasius lent to him by St. Anthony of the Desert.

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