Our Holy Father Paul of Thebes (342)
He was born in Egypt in the reign of the Emperor Decius. Though his parents left him a large inheritance, he abandoned it and fled into the desert around the year 250 to escape the bloody persecution of Christians raging at that time. After walking for several days, he found an isolated cave with a large palm tree and a spring of fresh water nearby. Settling here in solitude, he gave himself up to constant prayer.
Many years passed. Saint Anthony the Great, having reached the age of ninety (in about the year 342) was tempted by the thought that no one else had ever lived a life so dedicated to God as his. That night, he was told in a dream that there was another hermit in the desert more perfect than himself, who had reached the age of 113 years. Anthony rose, took up his staff, and walked straight into the desert, trusting God to lead him where he should go. He was threatened by various beasts sent by the Devil, but he tamed them with the sign of the Cross, and they showed him the way he should go. Finally a wolf brought him to St Paul’s cave. They embraced as brothers in Christ and spent the night in prayer. The next day Paul confided to Anthony that he was about to die, and that God had brought Anthony thence to give him honorable burial. As he had said, St Paul reposed the next day and, with many tears, St Anthony buried him in a cloak given him by St Athanasius the Great, assisted by two lions who dug out the grave with their paws.
Our Holy Father John Kalyvites (the hut-dweller) (ca. 450)
He was the son of Eutropius, a prominent senator, and Theodora, who lived in Constantinople. At the age of twelve, he secretly fled his home, taking nothing but a Gospel book with him. Entering the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones in the City, he gave himself up with fervor to a life of prayer, self-denial and obedience. For three years he ate only on Sundays after taking communion, and became so thin and haggard that he bore no resemblance to the young nobleman who had entered the monastery.
Tormented by longing to see his parents, but unwilling to give up the ascetic struggle, he left the monastery with his Abbot’s blessing, dressed in beggar’s rags, and took up residence in a poor hut near the gate of his parents’ house. Here he lived, mocked by those who had once been his servants and despised by his own parents, who no longer recognized him.
After three years, Christ appeared to him and told him that his end was drawing near, and that in three days angels would come to take him home. John sent a message to his parents, asking them to visit his hut. In perplexity, they came, and John, showing them the Gospel book that they had given him as a child, revealed to them that he was their son, and that he was about to die. They embraced him, rejoicing at their reunion but weeping for his departure from this life. Immediately, he gave back his soul to God.
The whole City of Constantinople was stirred by the story, and great crowds came to John’s burial service. A church was later built on the site of his hut, and many miracles were wrought there through the Saint’s prayers.
Saint Ita of Kileedy, Ireland (570)
The gentle and motherly St. Ita was descended from the high kings of Tara. From her youth she loved God ardently and shone with the radiance of a soul that loves virtue. Because of her purity of heart she was able to hear the voice of God and communicate it to others. Despite her father’s opposition she embraced the monastic life in her youth. In obedience to the revelation of an angel she went to the people of Ui Conaill in the southwestern part of Ireland. While she was there, the foundation of a convent was laid. It soon grew into a monastic school for the education of boys, quickly becoming known for its high level of learning and moral purity. The most famous of her many students was St. Brendan of Clonfert (May 16). She went to the other world in great holiness to dwell forever with the risen Lord in the year 570.
—from the 2003 Saint Herman Calendar