Saint Paul The Anchorite
St. Paul the Anchorite is a Coptic Saint born in Alexandria in 228 AD. He is also known as St. Paul of Thebes and Amba Bola in Arabic. The Monastery Of St. Paul covers an area of about 5 acres of land.
While he was still a teenager, Paul's father died, so he became a hermit and lived a simple life. At 16, he became a Christian and escaped Alexandria to avoid Roman persecution. According to one story, God sent Paul an angel who guided him to the western desert, where he could live alone as a hermit. The same story relates how God
sent Paul a crow daily carrying half a loaf of bread to feed him. St. Anthony joined Paul one day, and when the crow came, it had a whole loaf of bread. St. Paul then realized that God had sent St. Anthony after 80 years of him worshipping in solitude.
St. Anthony returned to his patriarch to tell him of St. Paul's holiness and then returned to the cave where St. Paul was living, only to find Paul dead. Anthony became confused and did not know what to do with the holy body, as he had nothing to dig the ground with so that he could bury him. Then Anthony saw two lions standing by the door of the cave. They approached the corpse and used their claws to dig in the ground. St. Anthony put St. Paul's body into this hole and buried him.
This is why whenever you see an icon for St. Paul in Egypt, either in the monastery or in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, it shows him flanked by two lions with a crown above his head.
The Monastery of St. Paul In Egypt
The monastery is about 40 km south of the Monastery of St. Anthony and is built on a high hill. The Monastery of St. Paul consists of various structures including:
This is the oldest structure in the whole monastery. It was built on top of the cave where St. Paul had lived for 80 years in the wilderness of the desert. The cave is three meters below sea level and is reachable by a staircase. At the end of it, there are three sanctuaries.
The Church of St. John the Baptist
This church is built on St. Paul's church. It has only one sanctuary and a small library.
The Church Of St. Michael
This church has three sanctuaries and is divided into four sections of equal size. It is covered with twelve beautiful domes. The monastery also has the remains of an old fortress, which includes a little guesthouse, storerooms, and a garden.