ST PAUL THE SIMPLE

Born in Egypt in the 3rd century and died on St Antony’s mountain around 339. Known as ‘the Simple’ due to his meek and simple nature, he was St Antony’s faithful disciple. Prior to his monastic life, he had been married and caught his wife in the act of adultery. Hence he left her and took the decision to consecrate the rest of his life to monastic living. He went to St Antony – who at this time was now 80 years old – and asked that he become a monk. St Antony at first refused him on account of his age (St Paul was 60) and therefore compelled him several times to leave and return to his village, saying he could not survive the harsh ascetical life. And yet, St Paul was so persistent that St Antony gave him many demanding and arduous tasks; all of which he fulfilled with such humility, obedience and simplicity that St Antony accepted him into his monastic community and called him the Pride of the Desert, and he bore with honour the title ‘the Simple’. The solitary life gave St Paul the Simple the gift of healing and casting out demons; a power in which he even surpassed his teacher St Antony. The remains of his cave, upon which is built a church in his honour, and is seen on the climb to St Antony’s cave, bears witness to this faithful contemporary of St Antony the Great. Feast day: 7 March.