Posted by Joe Rawls in ,

Today (in some calendars at least) is the commemoration of St Pachomius, the founder of cenobitic monasticism. He was born in Thebes, upper Egypt, to pagan parents in about 292. At the age of 20 he was forcibly drafted--rounded up like a prisoner is more like it--into the Roman army during one of the civil wars endemic to that period. Fortunately the war ended before he had to do any fighting. Before this happened, he and his fellow recruits/prisoners were ministered to by local Christians. This so impressed him that he converted and undertook the ascetic life.

After some years as a hermit (the predominant form of monasticism at the time) Pachomius had a vision of an angel, who told him, "The will of God is to put oneself at the service of humanity in order to call them to himself". This inspired him to establish a series of monasteries in which monks and nuns would live in structured communities under the guidance of an abbot and a written rule. At the time of his death he had founded nine monasteries with a total of 5,000 monks. His rule influenced later monastics, including Benedict. He refused to let priests join (they came from local villages to celebrate the Eucharist on-site) and he refused ordination even when it was offered by the great Athanasius himself. Oh, yes, and he also invented that indispensable accessory of Eastern monasticism, the prayer rope.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at Thursday, May 14, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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