In 1829 (1545 Coptic) in the village of Calad in Egypt, Paul Gabriel was born. His Christian parents sent him to a nearby church school however, when he was only eight, his mother died. Young Paul Gabriel was a lonely child but he loved prayers and psalms and through them discovered that God could fill his heart.
At 15 years old, he possessed great knowledge of Holy Books and Church Hymns. The village priest recommended him to the Bishop of Dyrout, Anba Youssab who ordained him a Deacon for the church of Gilda.
However, young Paul Gabriel longed for monastic life so he joined St Virgin Mary’s Monastery in Assuit, Egypt. He worked hard and was loved by his fellow monks. In 1848, at only 19 years old, he was ordained as a Monk with the name Reverend Paul Meharraki. In 1859, Bishop Anba Yakoubos asked Reverend Paul to join the Bishop’s house where he worked day and night to convert it into a shelter for the poor. He returned to the monastery in 1863 where he was ordained a Priest and chosen by the Monks to become the Abbot of the monastery.
Father Paul opened the doors of the monastery to create a refuge for thousands of the poor. During his time as Abbot, he improved the monastery both spiritually and financially by developing its agricultural land.