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Monasticism - 02

St Augustine : Brian Lowery O.S.A. guides through Ostia, Italy
Brian Lowery O.S.A. guides
through Ostia, Italy

Cenobitic monasticism, therefore, existed in the case of Pachomius in about the year 325, and Saint Jerome translated the Rule of Pachomius from Greek into Latin in about the year 404 AD.
At the time of his conversion in Milan in the years 386-387, Augustine was aware of the life of Saint Anthony in the desert of Egypt.
He mentioned him in his Confessions.
As will be further detailed later in these pages, Augustine became fascinated by the life of these monks.
He regarded that a life of prayer in the desert was most praiseworthy and sacrificial, but, even so, in his gregarious nature he did not feel called to the desert.
Upon his return to Africa as a Christian in the year 388, however, Augustine and a few Christian friends founded at Thagaste a lay community.
They became cenobites (a community of monks) in the countryside, rather than cenobites in the desert.
Here was another significant development. Augustine and his followers became rural cenobites, rather than desert cenobites.
Augustine had withdrawn from the city of Milan, resigned his position as a teacher, and was content to live a life of study and Christian reflection in the rural surroundings of his birthplace.
He had withdrawn from the world as much as possible, yet without going geographically to a desert.
When he was prevailed upon by the people of Hippo to become their priest and later their bishop, Augustine determined to continue with the monastic life as much as possible.
The priests who served with him became members of his monastic community. Indeed, he accepted nobody as a priest in Hippo who was unwilling to live the monastic life.
Augustine commenced an "active" or "apostolic" monastic style of life, in which participants actively served the church.
This would be an important characteristic of the mendicant movement eight hundred years later.
Saint Benedict (c. 480 – 547 AD) lived for many years as a solitary hermit in a cave near Subiaco, Italy.
He was asked to be head over several monks who wished to change to the monastic style of Pachomius by living in community.
Between the years 530 and 560, he wrote the Rule of Saint Benedict as a guideline for monks living in community.

(Continued on the next page.)


Saint Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – 547 AD). A brief biography.

The Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino. Official web page.

The Rule of Saint Benedict. Online, with explanation.

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