Ascetic life was widespread in the Qozhaya Valley. The hermits lived in cells chiseled in the rocks. Life at the Monastery of Saint Anthony was coenobitic. The hermits of the valley used to meet there once a week, under a bishop's authority.
The hermitages of Saints Simon, Bishoy, Michael and Boula were near the Monastery. The hermitage of St. Boula has a remarkable history. Situated southwest of the Monastery, it was founded in 1716 AD by Father Abdallah Qaraaly, one of the founders of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Its surroundings were perfumed by the prayers of a multitude of hermits. The Lebanese Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, before he entered the Order, ofen stayed in the above hermitage when he visited his two hermit uncles, Augustine and Daniel Shidiac of Bsharré.
Today, on the threshold of the third millennium, three hermits priests, Father Youhanna KHAWAND, Father Antoine RIZK and Father Dario ESCOBAR, are living in cells. They continue this tradition by offering their lives and prayers to God. Father Rizk has been living in the Hermitage of St. Boula since 2009. Father KHAWAND has been living in the Hermitage of St. Boula since 2011. Father Escobar, from Colombia, who is a Doctor in Psychology and a Professor in Theology, has been living in the Hermitage of Our Lady of Hawqa since 2000.
Despite their solitude and their consecration to prayer and adoration, some of the Monastery's hermits were assigned ecclesiastical responsibilities. Among the most famous we mention a few Patriarchs and Bishops:
- Mussa El-Akkari 1524-1567
- Michael El-Rizzi 1567-1581
- Sarkis El-Rizzi 1581-1597
- Yussef El-Rizzi 1597-1608
- Yuhanna Makhlouf 1608-1633
- Jebrail El-Ehdeni
- Yussef El-Jaji
- Yussef El-Bassloukiti
- Sarkis El-Rizzi (it was in his days that the printing press was installed in the Monastery)