medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The offspring of a Coptic-speaking pagan family from the vicinity of Egyptian Thebes, Pachomius encountered Christianity during what is said to have been brief, enforced service in the Roman army.  After his release he had himself baptized and then withdrew to a wilderness near his home where an older hermit instructed him in the faith and in ascetic practice.  After a few years of this Pachomius gathered together scattered hermits and founded in about 320 at Tabennîsi in the same general area what is now thought of as the world's first fully developed cenobitic monastery.  By the time of Pachomius' death in 346 his community had grown to include nine houses, including two for women (both supervised by an older, experienced monk).

Pachomius has early Lives in Coptic and in Greek; a somewhat later brief Bios was translated into Latin (BHL 6410) by Dionysius Exiguus in the sixth century.  By the early fifth century, when St. Jerome translated them into Latin, there existed in both Greek and in Coptic a collection of letters ascribed to Pachomius as well as a collection of administrative rules that went under Pachomius' name.  Early monasteries in the West (notably the one at Lérins) followed these ordinances.  In the originally tenth-century Synaxary of Constantinople, in other medieval Greek liturgical calendars, and in the descendants of these in modern Byzantine-rite churches Pachomius is celebrated on 15. May.  Today is his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Pachomius the Great:

a) as depicted at the outset of a copy of his Vita as translated by Dionysius Exiguus in a twelfth-century _Vitae Patrum_ (Reims, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 1390, fol. 156v):
The page as a whole: 

b) as depicted in the later twelfth-century mosaics of the basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale:

c) as depicted (at center) as depicted in a late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century fresco in the bema of the church at the Palaia Enkleistra ("Old Hermitage") of St. Neophytos near Tala (Paphos prefecture) in the Republic of Cyprus:

d) as depicted in the later thirteenth-century frescoes (1259) in the church of Sts. Nicholas and Panteleimon at Boyana near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia:

e) as depicted (second from left, receiving from an angel the first monastic rule) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1313 and 1318; conservation work in 1968) by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in the church of St. George at Staro Nagoričane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
Detail views:

f) as depicted (in the panel at lower right, lower register at far left) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 39v):

g) as depicted (at right, receiving from an angel the first monastic rule) as depicted in a badly degraded painting in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the church of the Holy Ascension in the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:

h) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Stephen the Younger) as depicted in the late fourteenth-century frescoes (1389; restored in the early 1970s) in the monastery church of St. Andrew at Matka in Skopje's municipality of Karpoš:

i) as depicted  (at left, receiving from an angel) the first monastic rule as depicted in a fresco of ca. 1400-1410, attributed to Andrei Rublev, in the Dormition cathedral in the Gorodok at Zvenigorod (Moscow oblast):

j) as depicted (at left, an angel approaching) by the Master of Ippolita Sforza in a later fifteenth-century copy (1465) of Domenico Cavalca's _Vite de' santi padri_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Italien 1712, fol. 112v): 

k) as depicted (at left, receiving from an angel the first monastic rule) by Theofanis Strelitzas-Bathas (Theophanes the Cretan) in an earlier sixteenth-century fresco (1527) in the katholikon of the monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas in Kalambaka (Trikala regional unit) in northern Greece:

John Dillon

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