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Pachomius

From Academic Kids

Pachomius, who died around AD 345 in Tabennisi, Egypt, is generally recognized as the first founder of Christian monasticism, and it is from him we get the name "Abbot".

Pachomius was a young Egyptian who according to tradition was raised a pagan and became a Christian after service in the Roman army. According to his saints biography he was swept up in a Roman army recruitment drive as a teenager against his will, a common occurrence during the turmoils and civil wars of the period, and held in captivity. It was here that local Christians would daily bring food and comforts to the inmates which made a lasting impression on him, and he vowed to investigate Christianity further when he got out. As fate would have it, he was able to get out of the army without ever having to fight, and converted. He then came into contact with a number of well known ascetics and decided to pursue that path.

Pachomius set out to lead the life of a hermit near St. Anthony of Egypt, whose practices he imitated. An earlier ascetic named Saint Marcarius had earlier created a number of proto-monasteries called "larves", or cells, where holy men would live in a community setting who were physically or mentally unable to achieve the rigors of Anthonys solitaire life. Pachomius set about organizing these cells into a formal organization.

Up to this point in time Christian asceticism had been solitary or eremitic. Male or female monastics lived in individual huts or caves and met only for occasional worship services. Pachomius seems to have created the community or cenobitic organization, in which male or female monastics lived together and had their possessions in common under the leadership of an abbot or abbess. Pachomius himself was hailed as "Abba" (father) which is where we get the word Abbot from. This first cenobitic monastery was in Tabennisi, Egypt. He is also credited with being the first Christian to use and recommend use of a prayer rope. He was visited once by Basil of Caesarea who took many of his ideas and implemented them in Caesarea, where Basil also made some adaptations that became the ascetic rule, or Ascetica, the rule still used today by the Orthodox Church, and comparable to that of the Rule of St. Benedict in the West.

From his initial monastery, demand quickly grew and by the time of his death in 345 it is estimated there were 3000 monasteries dotting Egypt from north to south. Within a generation after his death this number grew to 7000 and then moved out of Egypt into Palestine and the Judea Desert, Syria, North Africa and eventually Western Europe.

There were several written documents available in the 5th Century that purported to be monastic rules or organizational regulations written by Pachomius. These were translated into Latin by Jerome.

See also St. Benedict and Desert Fathers.

de:Pachomios pl:Pachomiusz

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