PAUL THE SIMPLE, SAINT, a peasant who became a monk in old age and a disciple of Saint ANTONY. He is known from chapter 22 of the Historia lausiaca of PALLADIUS, chapter 24 of the HISTORIA MONACHORUM IN AEGYPTO, chapter 31 of the Latin adaptation of the latter book by Rufinus, and from a long apothegm included in the APOPHTHEGMATA PATRUM. These various accounts present divergences that have been examined by R. Reitzenstein. The most important is the one that Palladius puts in the mouth of Kronius as he relates his memories of the time when he lived close to Antony.
Paul was a simple and honest peasant who had a very beautiful but unfaithful wife. One day, on returning from the fields, he found her with a lover. Far from being angry, he rejoiced, and, leaving his wife and children to his rival, went off to become a monk. He made his way to Saint Antony's hermitage. Seeing that Paul was old, and thinking that he would be incapable of sustaining the rigors of asceticism, Antony at first refused to receive him and left him for several days outside his door. Having witnessed his endurance, however, he ended by welcoming him. He submitted Paul to the severest trials, imposing on him labors, fasts, and long prayers, which Paul bore without complaint. Then Antony admitted him as a monk, and installed him in a hermitage some distance from his own.
Through his asceticism and extreme simplicity (whence the surname that was given him) Paul obtained the grace to triumph over demons, to the point that Antony sent him the demoniacs he could not cure. While Palladius insists on Paul's asceticism and endurance, the Historia monachorum in Aegypto praises his spirit of obedience, and the Apophthegmata patrum, the gift he received of reading consciences.
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