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d in Late Antiquity includes the following historical episodes: o 312-395: The period between the reigns of Emperor Constantine and Emperor Theodosius; o 395-480: The period between the aggressive incursion of Goths into the weakened Western Roman Empire and the death of Julius Nepos, the last legitimate emperor of the Western Roman Empire; o 480-565: The period that witnessed (a) the rise of Gothic kingdoms in what had been the Western Roman Empire and (b) the apogee of the Byzantine empire with the reign of Justinian.

On 28 October 312, the emperor Constantine defeated his rival, the usurper Maxentius, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge which led him to be sole ruler of the West. Convinced that the Christian God had helped him win the battle, Constantine granted Christianity universal toleration in February 313. The so-called conversion of Constantine was not to be thoroughly formalized until his baptism in 337 on his deathbed! His tacit approval of Christianity, however, brought about: o The granting of special privileges on the once forbidden religion and becoming its main Patron. These include: 1. Enriching the church with numerous and grandiose basilicas and providing their construction with government labor and materials; 2. Exempting church land from taxation; 3. Excusing the Christian clergy from shouldering burdensome, sometimes ruinous, civil obligations; 4. Granting the Christian clergy regular contributions from the government coffer; 5. Setting up a system of gifts of food to churches, and grain allowances to consecrated virgins, widows, and others in church service.


HISTORY OF CONSECRATED LIFE BULLET POINTS FOR LECTURE 3 o Consequently, he unintentionally encouraged the steady increase of insincere conversions on the part of opportunistic careerists who took advantage of the imperial preference for Christians in civil and military offices; o He unavoidably caused the explosion of volatile jurisdictional and doctrinal discords among Christians in the empire which were contained throughout the time they were undergoing persecution. These debates effectively divided the believers, to the point that Constantine himself had to remedy the bitter altercations within his favored religion by convoking and presiding over the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.). The fragile stability of the 4th century Roman Empire was maintained at a great cost to its citizens. Taxation was kept at a high level to pay for the large armies needed to defend the northern frontiers against the increasingly well-organized Germanic Goths. However, the rich used their political influence to avoid paying taxes, so the tax burden fell heavily upon the poorer classes. In Egypt, this increased taxation, coupled with poor irrigation and high inflation, forced many small landowners to abandon ( = anakhrsis) their villages for the desert to avoid debt-bondage. Christianity became the empires official religion in 24 February 391, when Emperor Theodosius I prohibited any form of pagan worship. A year later, on 8 November 392 he banned paganism.

After 313, believers (especially the Old Christians) were confronted with the issue of legitimate continuity. Was the Church, now co-opted with the Empire, the same Church which not too long before had been persecuted by the Roman emperors? The Old Christians had to convince themselves that their church was still the ecclesia martyrum (church of martyrs) even vicariously. The co-optation of the Christian clergy into the imperial system and its transformation into an ordo sacerdotalis was resented by many believers who were convinced that this corrupted the leadership of the Church.



Within Egypt, the oppressive taxation levied on small landowners (mostly Coptspeaking) had already produced a social phenomenon anakhrsis that slowly took the form of a religious experience. The Christian historian Eusebius noted that many Christians fled to the desert and mountains of Lower Egypt (Arcadia) during the Decian persecution (250-51 C.E.), but he does not link this anakhrsis with asksis. Apart from having a topography where it was relatively easy to lead a marginal existence reduced to the strictest minimum, Egypt was already home to Christian apotactics of both sexes in Upper Egypt (Thebaid).


Whether or not Antony (ca. 251-356) was historically the first anchorite (Jerome claims it was Paul of Thebes), it is safe to say that Antony provides us with the prototype of anchoritic [ (anachrits) = to withdraw] monasticism. Unlike the apotactics, the anchorites physical separated themselves from the the inhabited world ( = oikumen) in their desire for solitude [ (monachos)]. The desert and mountains of Arcadia provided both the physical and symbolic space proper to anchoritic solitude.


HISTORY OF CONSECRATED LIFE BULLET POINTS FOR LECTURE 3 THE ASCETIC MOVEMENT IN EGYPT (middle) The site of Antonys fort on the Nile and his hermitage on the Red Sea (ca. 313). (top) The lavriotes of Nitria (founded by Amoun), Kellia, and Scetis in Lower Egypt. (bottom) The cenobite communities of Pachomius in Tabennesis, Chenoboscion, and Phou.

This form of anchoritism distinguishes itself for its eremitic lifestyle: no abbot (abba), no community, no formal rules, no clear quasi-legal pact, no common worship. Any reference to an anchorites monastery should be understood as his/her cell. According to contemporary testimonies, anchoritism spread into Lower Egypt during the 4th century and became popular. Unfortunately, it is difficult to ascertain the population of pure anchorites of this period because anchoritism was not being distinguished by chroniclers from another life form: lavriote monasticism or lavriotism.


Lavriote Monasticism or, simply, Lavriotism is a quasi-anchoritic lifestyle involving anchorites whose cells are quite proximate or connected ( = lane) to each other, clustered around a church and other common facilities. Their life is semi-secluded. Their cells were fairly close to one another, thus enabling them to interact and celebrate common worship from Saturday to Sunday, served by priests sent under the authority of the local bishop. In spite of this networking, there was no set discipline that bound together these lavriotes: They followed different ways of life, each as one can or will. Neophytes attached themselves as apprentices to a master (an abba or amma) to learn asksis. However, there was neither a formal novitiate nor the declaration of some form of quasi-legal pact after their training.


HISTORY OF CONSECRATED LIFE BULLET POINTS FOR LECTURE 3 Amoun (ca. 295-353), along with his wife, are considered as the originators of lavriotism. It is said that a vast settlement of about 5,000 connected anchorites grew around Amouns cell in Nitria. Palladius Lausiac History claims that by 420 C.E. he counted 18,900 men and 3,095 women living in these desert lavras.

The best-known exponent (but not originator) of cenobitism was Pachomius (+326). After adult baptism, he began a life of asksis as a lavriote. At some point during his apprenticeship, however, he recognized a powerful call to serve all people in order to call them to God. To accomplish this, he realized that he first had to define a setting in which others ascetics might support each other [ (koinbiotis) = in common] both spiritually and materially. But what he strove for was not mere association with others, nor even the service of others, but to form a koinnia ( = communion by intimate participation) built upon mutual respect and mutual support. His first koinnia was established at Tabennesis (Upper Egypt) around 320 C.E. At its peak, it accommodated several hundred coenobites. Stewardship over the koinnias was appointed although Pachomius remained as the over-all abba. These cenobites raised their own food and engaged in various handicrafts, the products of which were sold in Alexandria to sustain their economics and simple lifestyle. When needed, they also cared for people living outside the koinnia. They took in the aged and orphans, cared for the sick, fed the hungry, and buried the dead. For the sake of orderly common living, Pachomius drew for the members a series of regulations inspired from Sciptures (later collected as the Pachomian Rule). When his sister and other women decided to also live like his male followers, he sent them the rules he wrote for the koinnia of Tabennesis. Pachomius did not want the male cenobites to desire to become priests. He gravely doubted its propriety: The clerical dignity is the beginning of a temptation to love of power. o When the brothers came to number one hundred, he built a church in his monastery so they might praise God there. But he would still go to the village for the celebration of the Eucharist on Saturday evening while the clergy


HISTORY OF CONSECRATED LIFE BULLET POINTS FOR LECTURE 3 would come to celebrate it for them at the monastery on Sunday morning, because no one among the brothers had clerical rank in the holy Church. Indeed, our father Pachomius did not want any clerics in his monasteries, for fear of jealousy and vainglory. Very often, indeed, he would talk to them on this subject; It is better not to seek after such a thing in our koinnia, lest this should be an occasion for strife, envy, jealousy and even schisms to arise in a large number of monks, contrary to Gods will. In the same way as a spark cast into the threshing floor, unless it is quickly quenched, will destroy a whole years labor, so it is with a thought of grandeur at its outset. (Bohairic Life of Pachomius, 25) o If someone from the clergy came to him and wanted to become a monk, and if he saw that he was righteous, he would accept him and make him a monk. He would respect his rank but he would make him walk willingly in the rules laid down for the brothers, like anyone else. (BL Pachomius, 25) o Pachomius appointed some from among the capable brothers as his assistants to take care of their souls salvation. (BL Pachomius, 26) There were other cenobitic communities of independent (but obscure) origins that existed alongside the Pachomian koinnias. Three of them later joined the Pachomian federation. By the time of Pachomius death there were already 11 communities in the holy koinnia, of which 2 were for women. Palladius claims that by the end of the 4th century, there were 7,000 cenobitic communities living under the Pachomian rule, most to be found in the Thebaid, but with at least one established close to Alexandria.