St. Paul was apparently born to rich parents in the year 228, However, by the age of sixteen, he had lost his parents. This would have corresponded with the terrible period of Christian persecution perpetuated by Decius and Valerian between 249 and 260 AD. After the death of his parents, Paul renounced his inheritance and consecrated his life to God, eventually seeking refuge in the wilderness of Egypt's Eastern Desert, where he is said to have lived until the age of one hundred and thirteen. Living in his cave, and clothed in a tunic made of plaited palm leaves, tradition holds that a raven brought a half of a loaf of bread which day for him to eat.
Jerome tells us that Anthony, who was apparently at least a contemporary of Paul, was told of someone living in the desert that was holier then he. Hence, he set out to find Paul and, having succeeded, had a friendly conversation with him. That evening when the Raven came to bring the saint's nourishment, he came with a whole loaf so that both the holy men might have substance.
Apparently, Anthony and Paul continued to be friends for many years. When Paul thought that he was approaching death, he asked Anthony to fetch the cloak which the patriarch Athanasius had given him. However, when Anthony arrived at the cave where Paul had lived those many years, he saw angels carrying the soul of the holy ascetic to heaven. Paul's body remained in the cave, but two lions approached and dug a grave into which Anthony placed Paul's body wrapped in the cloak he had fetched. Anthony is said to have kept Paul's tunic of palm leaves, which he wore to celebrate the occasions of Easter and Pentecost.