St. Paul the Hermit is considered to be the first Christian hermit. He was born in Thebes, Egypt, in the third century A.D. He spent a life of total seclusion in the desert, escaping the persecutions of Christians by Roman emperors. The well-known episode of his life is the visit of St. Anthony of Egypt. The two hermits spent some time in the company of each other, and St. Paul the Hermit informed his younger friend that for 60 years, day after day, a raven had been bringing him a half a loaf of bread. That day, however, the raven brought them a whole loaf of bread. After a while St. Anthony bade farewell. On his way home he saw two angels carrying off Paul's soul. Her turned back and found the lifeless body, guarded by two lions. They helped St. Anthony to dig a grave and bury the first hermit.
See: Matthias Grünewald St. Anthony Visiting St. Paul the Hermit in the Desert.
Jusepe de Ribera. St. Paul the Hermit.
Diego Velázquez. St. Anthony Abbot and St. Paul the Hermit.
The Book of Saints: The Lives of the Saints According to the Liturgical Calendar by George Angelini, Victor Hoagland (Editor). Regina Press, Malhame & Company, 1986.
365 Saints: Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives by Woodeene Koenig-Brick (Author). Harper SanFrancisco, 1995.
Lives of the Saints: From Mary and Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa by Richard McBrien (Author). Harper San Francisco, 2001.