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V   The Beginnings of Monasticism

The peace between the Roman Empire and the Church allowed some Christians to live as hermits all around the Mediterranean Sea and especially in the Egyptian deserts. Saint Anthony is considered the father of the eremetical life. Saint Pachomius is the father of cenobitical life. In the 6th century, Benedict of Nursia introduced monastic life in the Western world. He wrote a rule for monks who live in a community: the rule of Saint Benedict. At the beginning of the 9th century, Charlemangne reorganized the Empire and asked all the monks to live according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. This Rule has been followed by the Benedictine monks and by the Cistercians since the foundation of the Order of Citeaux in 1098. The first Cistercians were Benedictine monks coming from the Abbey of Molesme.


1. “At this moment in history, we are profoundly convinced that the pilgrim Church has need of our contemplative life: of men and women who, by a life more visibly tuned to God and the realities to come, remind all men that the most fundamental dimension of their existence is their personal relation with the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
A New Charter of Charity for the Order of Citeaux.


                    The Rule of St. Benedict
Beata Umilta Transport Bricks to the Monastery (detail)
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

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