PAUL OF THEBES (?-ca. 340 or 341)

A Saint, hermit. He is traditionally the first hermit. In addition to Jerome‘s Life of Paul, written in Latin, there are Greek, Coptic, and Arabic texts on St. Paul, but he is mainly known from the Latin biography that Jerome composed, probably in 375 or 376. Paul was an Egyptian from the Lower Thebaid. Around 250 he fled into the Eastern Desert to escape the persecution of Emperor Decius, where he lived a life of prayer in a cave for almost 90 years. St. Antony visited him shortly before his death.

It is said that a crow provided Paul with half a loaf of bread each day for his sustenance, but on the day visited him the crow appeared with a whole loaf. After the death of Paul, two lions appeared and dug out the grave to help bury him. Beginning with the medieval period, the two saints are often represented in wall paintings and icons standing together in prayer, while a crow is providing them with a loaf, and two lions stand at the feet of Paul.