Egypt is considered the birthplace of monasticism. Monasticism in Egypt began as a life of complete solitude and contemplation. It did not start with the formation of monasteries, but with individuals living in the seclusion of caves, holes in the ground, and other small dwellings. Monasteries were formed in Egypt at the end of the third century, making Egyptian monasteries the oldest in the world.
Monasticism was first started in Egypt not only by those seeking out a life of solitude, but also by those Christians who were being persecuted under the Roman rule. This was long before Christianity was made legal. Often individuals would devote their lives to avoiding the rest of the world and focusing all their thoughts on God, which was achievable by secluding oneself out in the wilderness and deserts of Egypt. Another reason that people sought lives of solitude with God was the heavy taxation imposed by the Romans on Christians. Many people lost their homes and all their property because of these taxes and chose to leave rather than face imprisonment. These people eventually formed communities and soon after began forming monasteries. Even today many Egyptian monasteries remain inhabited by monks.
The father of monasticism is considered to be St. Anthony the Great. St. Anthony was a Copt from Upper Egypt who lived 105 years from A.D. 251 until 356. He established the basics of living the life of a monk. Later on a monk by the name of Pachomius is credited with founding communal monasticism. His Rules were compiled over time and came to serve as the basis for monastic communities all over the world.
- Pachomian monastery map – based on Pachomian rule
- Pachomian monastery areas – references in Pachomian rule
- The various positions of the monastery according to the Pachomian rule
Introduction by RMS
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