The Rise of Western Monasticism


c. 280s Antony withdraws to the Egyptian desert

312/313 Constantine becomes a Christian; Edict of Milan calls for persecution of Christians to end

c. 320 Pachomius, founder of cenobitic (communal) monasticism in Egypt, receives his first disciples

325 Council of Nicaea approves creed proclaiming that Christ is divine in the same way as the Father

356 Antony dies; Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, writes The Life of Antony

370 Basil the Great, monastic founder in Cappadocia, becomes bishop of Caesarea; he writes principles of ascetic life

early 370s Semi-hermits gather around Martin of Tours in Gaul; he later establishes a monastery that eventually becomes Benedictine

374 Melania the Elder establishes a monastery of women in Jerusalem; Rufinus follows in 380 and establishes a monastery of men

385 Jerome leaves Rome to follow monastic life in the East; his colleague Paula follows soon after

386 Augustine reads Latin translation of The Life of Antony and converts to Christianity soon after

c. 395 Paulinus removes to Nola, where he leads an ascetic life

404 Jerome translates rules of Pachomius into Latin

407-8 Destruction of Scetis, major center of hermits in Egyptian desert

410 Fall of Rome (city sacked by Goths)

410 Cassian writes Conferences in Latin, allowing Westerners to read about Eastern monastic traditions


451 Council of Chalcedon defines the two natures of Christ

455 Rome sacked again by Vandals

476 Romulus, the last Western Roman emperor, deposed by barbarian leader Odoacer

c. 480 Benedict is born in Nursia, Italy

489 Theodoric the Great, king of Ostrogoths, invades Italy and deposes Odoacer

c. 493 Benedict leaves Nursia to study in Rome

c. 502-505 Benedict lives as a hermit in a cave

c. 507-529 ...

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