The Monastic Order of St. Paul the First Hermit was founded in 1215 in Hungary. The founder was Blessed Eusebius. It was through his efforts that the saintly hermits of Hungary were united in monasteries under the patronage of St. Paul the First Hermit who had lived the solitary life some 780 years earlier.
The Order spread rapidly throughout Hungary and then into Croatia, Germany, Poland, Austria and Bohemia. There was a time when there were over 5000 Pauline monks in Hungary alone.
A highlight in the Order's history took place in 1382 when they became the custodians of the miraculous picture of Our Lady, believed to be printed by St. Luke the Evangelist. The Icon was brought to Poland by Prince Ladislaus from a castle at Biez, Russia. He invited the monks to come from Hungary into Poland to safegard the holy picture. The monks established a Shrine for the venerable image of the Blessed Mother in a small town of Chestochowa (pronounced as chen-sto-hova). Today this Shrine is the Mother house of the Order, and is the largest monastery with over 100 Fathers and Brothers, belonging to the monks of St. Paul the First Hermit. It is seen as the spiritual capital of Polish Catholics and is visited by more then 4 million pilgrims each year from all over the world.
Today there are less then 500 members in the Order throughout the world. The sad history of Europe ravaged by so many wars and religious persecutions, has dramatically reduced the numbers of a once large and flourishing Order.
The majority of the Order's monasteries are presently located in Poland. In the Seminary in Krakow there are over 60 students and in the Novitiate more then 20 novices.
The Order has monasteries and Shrines also in Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarusia, Latvia, Hungary, Italy, France, Spain, The United States of America, Cameroon and South Africa.
There are five Monasteries belonging to the Order in Australia. Their first foundation was made in Berrima/Penrose Park, NSW in 1984, where approximately 2000 pilgrims go each month to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady.
In 1989 the Marian Valley Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia was established in Canungra QLD. Other parishes are Smithfield, Merrylands and Moss Vale in NSW.
In the apostolate of our Order from the very beginning, Mary has played a special role. She is present in its life and in all spheres of its activities. Our Order has always venerated Her as the Mediatrix of All Graces and had zealously propagated devotion to Her.