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Tuesday, 14 June 2016


The first community of monks living under one roof and following the same routine was founded in Egypt by the Christian ascetic Pachomius in around 320 AD. A disciple of Anthony, Pachomius of Egypt, founded the monastery at Tabenna, an island in the Nile River.

Pachomius is said to have founded nine monasteries for men and two for women, numbering 3000 monks. Within fifty years from his death his societies could claim 50,000 members. These communities resembled villages, peopled by a hard-working religious community, all of one sex.

The early monastic buildings were detached, small and of the humblest character. Each cell or hut, contained three monks.

Saint Honoratus (c. 350 – January 6, 429), who was an early Archbishop of Arles, founded a monastery on the wild island of Saint-Honorat on around 410 AD. (Saint-Honorat is one of the Lérins Islands, on the French Riviera,) Lérins Abbey is Europe's oldest surviving monastery and today the Cistercian monks there cultivate vineyards and produce wine and liqueur.

Church and monastery of the Lérins Abbey. Panoramic picture taken from the fortified monastery by I, Alberto Fernandez Fernandez, 
The Great Laura, the first monastery on Mount Athos, in northern Greece was built in 961. There are now twenty monasteries on the Greek mountain. The over 2,000 monks living there have forbidden all females, whether human or animal, from setting foot on the Athos peninsular, except for female cats, female insects and female songbirds.

Mount Athos. By Dave Proffer - Wikipedia Commons

In 1775 Bishop Nicholas Kalliboutzes entered a monastic community on Mount Athos, taking the new name, Nicodemus. He devoted much of his time there to editing various writings about the theory and practice of prayer and  also personally wrote books on spirituality that were widely circulated. Arising from this a spiritual revival broke out on Mount Athos. This sparked new interest in the Jesus Prayer, which spread throughout Europe: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner".

Source Comptons Encyclopedia

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