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Tuesday, 14 June 2016


Communal monasticism was started by Saint Pachomius, a converted soldier in around 320 BC. He set up his first ascetic community at Tabennisi by the River Nile in Egypt. To prove their enthusiasm, new recruits were required to stand outside the monastery door for several days.

Father of Spiritual Communal Monastic Life

Many thousands of disciples from all over the eastern Mediterranean area flocked to Pachomius and he founded several other monasteries for men and one for women under the direction of his sister.

Pachomius drew up the first ever monastic rule, a set of regulations by which each community must live and worship.

Each of these early monastic cells contained three monks. They took their chief meal in a common refectory or dining hall at 3 P.M., up to which hour they usually fasted. They ate in silence, with hoods so drawn over their faces that they could see nothing but what was on the table before them.

Benedict of Nursia (c.480–550) , the founder of the Benedictine order, compiled a series of rules by which the Benedictine monks should live by near the end of his life.The Rule of Saint Benedict has been used by Benedictines for fifteen centuries, and thus St. Benedict is sometimes regarded as the founder of Western monasticism.

St. Benedict writing the rules. Painting (1926) by Hermann Nigg (1849–1928).

St Gilbert of Sempringham (d1189) founded the Gilbertines, England's only indigenous monastic order. In 1148 It spread to 13 houses but never spread beyond England and Scotland and it was dissolved in the reformation.

The Augustinian order was established to follow the monastic teaching and 'rule' of St Augustine in 1256. They were not founded by any particular personality, but were a union of several monastic societies. It was the last of the great begging orders to emerge on the thirteenth century.

In the refectories of medieval monasteries, monks used to dine from boards which were "set up" on trestles. From this comes the phrase "To set the table" for a meal

Many medieval monks were forbidden to speak at meals, so an elaborate sign language evolved. Monks that were forbidden to communicate with their hands talked with their feet instead.

Medieval monasteries excelled in making beer and they are brewing many different types for the monks and their guests, each of whom was given a gallon a day. Nuns were granted a daily allowance of six pints.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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