Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012 Gratuitous, Mt 10:7-15, St.John Gaulbert, Part II of IV First Monks and Monasteries

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Gratuitous, Mt 10:7-15, St. John Gaulbert, Part II of IV First Monks and Monasteries

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Wonderful Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course, resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  gratuitous   gra·tu·i·tous [gruh-too-i-tuhs, -tyoo-]

Origin: 1650–60;   Latin grātuītus  free, freely given, spontaneous, derivative of grātus  thankful, received with thanks (for formation compare fortuitous); see -ous

1. Given, done, bestowed, or obtained without charge or payment; free; voluntary.
2. Being without apparent reason, cause, or justification: a gratuitous insult.
3. Law . given without receiving any return value.

Reference: Courtesy of


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 10: 7-15

MASOLINO da Panicale
St Peter Preaching
Fresco, 255 x 162 cm
Cappella Brancacci, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence
Jesus said to his disciples: "As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those suffering from virulent skin-diseases, drive out devils.

You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the labourer deserves his keep.

'Whatever town or village you go into, seek out someone worthy and stay with him until you leave.
As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, may your peace come upon it; if it does not, may your peace come back to you. And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. In truth I tell you, on the Day of Judgement it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town."


• The Gospel today presents the second part of the sending out of the disciples.  Yesterday we have seen that Jesus insists in directing them first toward the lost sheep of Israel.  Today, we see the concrete instructions to carry out the mission.

• Matthew 10, 7: The objective of the mission: to reveal the presence of the Kingdom. “Go and announce the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”.  The principal objective is that of announcing that the Kingdom is close at hand.  This is the novelty which Christ brings to us.  For the other Jews there was still a long time before the coming of the Kingdom. It would have come only after they would have done their own part.  The coming of the Kingdom depended, according to them, on their effort. For the Pharisees, for example, the Kingdom would be attained only after the perfect observance of the Law.  For the Essences, when the country would have purified itself. But Jesus thinks in a different way. He has a different way of reading the facts of life. He says that the hour has already arrived (Mk 1, 15). When he says that the Kingdom is close at hand or that the Kingdom is already among us, in our midst, he does not mean to say that the Kingdom was just arriving at that moment, but that it was already there, independently of the effort made by the people. What they all expected was already present among the people, gratuitously, but the people did not know it, nor perceived it (cf. Lk 17, 21). Jesus is aware of this, because he sees reality with different eyes. He reveals and announces to the poor of his land this hidden presence of the Kingdom in our midst (Lk 4, 18). It is the mustard seed which will receive the rain of his word and the warmth of his love.  

• Matthew 10, 8: The signs of the presence of the Kingdom: accept the excluded. How should the presence of the Kingdom be announced? Only through words and discourses? No! The signs of the presence of the Kingdom are above all concrete gestures or acts, done gratuitously: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out the devils. You received without charge, give without charge”.  This means that the disciples should accept within the community those who have been excluded. This practice of solidarity criticizes both the religion and society which exclude, and indicates concrete solutions.  

• Matthew 10, 9-10: Do not take anything for the journey. Contrary to other missionaries, the disciples of Jesus should not take anything: “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or a spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the labourer deserves his keep”. This means that they have to trust in the hospitality of the people.  Because the disciples who go without anything, taking only peace (Mk 10, 13), show that they trust the people.  It is certain that they will be welcomed, that they will be able to participate in the life and the work of the people of the place and that they will be able to survive with what they will receive in exchange, because the labourer deserves his keep.  This means that the disciples should trust in sharing. By means of this practice they criticize the laws of exclusion and recover the ancient values of community living together.  

• Matthew 10, 11-13: To share peace in the community. The disciples should not go from house to house, but should seek persons of peace and remain in that house. That is, they should they in a stable manner.  Thus, through that new practice, they criticise the culture of accumulation which characterized the politics of the Roman Empire, and they announced a new model of living together. Once all these requirements were respected, the disciples could cry out: The Kingdom of God has arrived! To announce the Kingdom does not mean, in the first place, to teach truths and doctrine, but lead toward a new fraternal manner of living and of sharing starting from the Good News which Jesus has brought to us: God and Father and Mother of all men and women.  

• Matthew 10, 14-15: The severity of the menace.  How is such a severe menace to be understood? Jesus has brought us something completely new. He has come to rescue the community values of the past: hospitality, sharing, communion around the table, acceptance of the excluded.  That explains the severity against those who reject the message. Because they do not reject something new, but their own past, their own culture and wisdom! The objective of the pedagogy of Jesus is to dig out from the memory, to recover the wisdom of the people, to reconstruct the community, to renew the Covenant, to reconstruct life. 

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Items from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint John Gaulbert, Abbot

Feast Day:July 12
Patron Saint: Forest workers; foresters; park rangers; parks

St John Gualbert, St Michael 1528 del Sarto
John Gualbert (985 or 995 – 12 July 1073), also known as Giovanni Gualberto or John Gualberto, was an Italian Roman Catholic saint, the founder of the Vallumbrosan Order. He was a member of the Visdomini family of Florentine nobility. One Good Friday he was entering Florence accompanied by armed followers, when in a narrow lane he came upon a man who had killed his brother. He was about to kill the man in revenge, when the other fell upon his knees with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and begged for mercy in the name of Christ, who had been crucified on that day. John forgave him. He entered the Benedictine Church at San Miniato to pray, and the figure on the crucifix bowed its head to him in recognition of his generosity. 

This story forms the subject of Burne-Jones's picture "The Merciful Knight", and has been adapted by Shorthouse in "John Inglesant". John Gualbert became a Benedictine monk at San Miniato. He now entered the Order of St. Benedict, in which he made such great progress in virtue that after the death of the Abbot, the monks wished to impose this dignity upon him, but the Saint absolutely refused to accept it. He fought actively against simony, of which both his abbot, Oberto, and the Bishop of Florence, Pietro Mezzabarba, were guilty. Unwilling to compromise with them, he left the monastery to lead a more perfect life. His attraction was for the cenobitic, and not eremitic life, so after staying for some time with the monks at Camaldoli, he settled at Vallombrosa, where he founded his monastery. Mabillon estimates its foundation before 1038.Sometime later, he left the monastery with one companion in quest of greater solitude. 

Although he enjoyed the benefits of an early Christian education, his youthful heart was soon attracted to the vanities of the world. A painful incident was the means God made use of, to open his eyes. Hugo, his only brother, had been murdered and St. John had resolved to avenge his death. On a certain Good Friday he met his enemy in a place where there was no escape for the latter. St. John drew his sword and would have killed his adversary on the spot, but the latter threw himself on his knees begging him by the passion of Jesus Christ to spare his life. St. John was touched at the words, embraced his enemy, entered a church and prayed with many tears for the pardon of his sins. 

Having visited the hermitage of Camaldoli, he finally settled at Valle Ombrosa in Tuscany. Together with two hermits whom he found there, he and his companions built a small monastery, observing the primitive rule of St. Benedict. Thus was laid the foundation of the Order of Vallombrosa. The humility of the saint was such that he would never be promoted, even to Minor Orders. His charity for the poor caused him to make a rule that no indigent person should be sent away without an alms. He founded several monasteries, reformed others, and succeeded in eradicating the vice of simony from the part of the country where he lived. He died on July 12, 1073, at about 80 years of age. Saint John Gaulbert, Abbot - Feast day is July 12th The city of Florence gave to the world Saint John Gaulbert.


He was canonized in the year 1193 by Pope Celestine III. St John Gualbert's feast was not included in the Tridentine Calendar, but was added in 1595 to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints whose celebration was obligatory wherever the Roman Rite was used. Owing to its limited worldwide importance, his feast was removed from that calendar in 1969. 12 July continues to be his feast day, as indicated in the Roman Martyrology and, according to the new rules given in the Roman Missal of the same year, he may now be celebrated everywhere with his own Mass on that day, unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to the same day. He is the patron of foresters, park rangers, and parks.


*Courtesy of Wikipedia, and Catholic Online,

*This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company


Today's Snippet: Part II of IV - First Christian Monks and Monasteries 


St Anthony  the  Great Abbot
According to tradition, Christian monasticism began in Egypt with St. Anthony the Great Abbot. Originally, all Christian monks were hermits seldom encountering other people. But because of the extreme difficulty of the solitary life, many monks failed, either returning to their previous lives, or becoming spiritually deluded.

Anthony the Great or Antony the Great (ca. 251–356), also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Anthony of Thebes, Abba Antonius and Father of All Monks, was a Christian saint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. He is celebrated in many churches on his feast days:  January 30 in the Old-Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church;  January 17 in the New-Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Catholic Church.

The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first known ascetic going into the wilderness (about A.D. 270–271), a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Libyan Desert inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature. Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were historically referred to as "St. Anthony's fire." Anthony was secretly buried on the mountain-top where he had chosen to live. His remains were reportedly discovered in 361, and transferred to Alexandria. Some time later, they were taken from Alexandria to Constantinople, so that they might escape the destruction being perpetrated by invading Saracens. Later, in the eleventh century, the Byzantine emperor gave them to the French Count Jocelin. Jocelin had them transferred to La-Motte-Saint-Didier, which was then renamed Saint-Antoine-en-Dauphiné.There, Anthony is credited with assisting in a number of miraculous healings, primarily from ergotism, which became known as "St. Anthony's Fire". He was credited by two local noblemen of assisting them in recovery from the disease. They then founded the Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony in honour of him, who specialized in nursing the victims of skin diseases.

Veneration of Anthony in the East is more restrained. There are comparatively few icons and paintings of him. He is regarded as the "first master of the desert and the pinnacle of holy monks", however, and there are monastic communities of the Maronite, Chaldean, and Orthodox churches which state that they follow his monastic rule. During the Middle Ages, Anthony, along with Quirinus of Neuss, Cornelius and Hubertus, was venerated as one of the Four Holy Marshals (Vier Marschälle Gottes) in the Rhineland.

Saint Pakhomius
Saint Pakhom (Coptic: 292-348), also known as Pachome and Pakhomius  is generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism. In the Coptic churches his feast day is celebrated on May 9. In the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches his feast day is celebrated on May 15.

He was born in 292 in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt) to pagan parents. According to his hagiography, he was swept up against his will in a Roman army recruitment drive at the age of 20, a common occurrence during the turmoils and civil wars of the period, and held in captivity. It was here that local Christians would daily bring food and comforts to the inmates, which made a lasting impression on him, and he vowed to investigate Christianity further when he got out. He was able to get out of the army without ever having to fight, was converted and baptized (314). He then came into contact with a number of well known ascetics and decided to pursue that path. He sought out the hermit Palaemon and came to be his follower (317). After studying seven years with the Elder Palaemon, Pachomius set out to lead the life of a hermit near St. Anthony of Egypt, whose practices he imitated until, according to legend, he heard a voice in Tabennisi that told him to build a dwelling for the hermits to come to. An earlier ascetic named Macarius had earlier created a number of proto-monasteries called "larves", or cells, where holy men would live in a community setting who were physically or mentally unable to achieve the rigors of Anthony's solitary life. Pachomius set about organizing these cells into a formal organization.

Up to this point in time, Christian asceticism had been solitary or eremitic. Male or female monastics lived in individual huts or caves and met only for occasional worship services. Pachomius seems to have created the community or cenobitic organization, in which male or female monastics lived together and had their possessions in common under the leadership of an abbot or abbess. Pachomius himself was hailed as "Abba" (father) which is where we get the word Abbot from. This first cenobitic monastery was in Tabennisi, Egypt.
He established his first monastery between 318 and 323. The first to join him was his elder brother John, and soon more than 100 monks lived at his monastery. He came to found nine monasteries in his lifetime, and after 336, Pachomius spent most of his time at his Pabau monastery. From his initial monastery, demand quickly grew and, by the time of his death in 346, one count estimates there were 3000 monasteries dotting Egypt from north to south. Within a generation after his death, this number grew to 7000 and then spread from Egypt to Palestine and the Judean Desert, Syria, North Africa and eventually Western Europe. Other sources maintain that the number of monks, rather than the number of monasteries, may have reached 7000.

He is also credited with being the first Christian to use and recommend use of a prayer rope. He was visited once by Basil of Caesarea who took many of his ideas and implemented them in Caesarea, where Basil also made some adaptations that became the ascetic rule, or Ascetica, the rule still used today by the Eastern Orthodox Church, and comparable to that of the Rule of St. Benedict in the West.

Though Pachomius sometimes acted as lector for nearby shepherds, neither he nor any of his monks became priests. St Athanasius visited and wished to ordain him in 333, but Pachomius fled from him. Athanasius' visit was probably a result of Pachomius' zealous defence of orthodoxy against Arianism.

He remained abbot to the cenobites for some forty years. When he caught an epidemic disease (probably plague), he called the monks, strengthened their faith, and appointed his successor. He then departed on 14 Pashons, 64 A.M. (9 May 348 A.D.) His reputation as a holy man has endured. He is currently commemorated in several liturgical calendars, including that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Oldest Monasteries

St. Anthony's Coptic Monastery Coma, Egypt
Coptic Monasticism is claimed to be the original form of Monasticism as Saint Pachomius the Cenobite, a Copt from Upper Egypt, established the first communal living in the Monastery of Saint Anthony in the Red sea area. St. Anthony's Monastery (also known as the Monastery of Abba Antonious) is now the oldest monastery in the world.

The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery standing in an oasis in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, in the southern part of the Suez Governorate. Hidden deep in the Red Sea mountains, it is located 334 km (208 mi) southeast of Cairo. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, together with Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, which also lays claim to that title. The Monastery of Saint Anthony was established by the followers of Saint Anthony, who is considered to be the first monk. The Monastery of St. Anthony is one of the most prominent monasteries in Egypt and has strongly influenced the formation of several Coptic institutions, and has promoted monasticism in general. Several patriarchs have been pulled from the monastery, and several hundred pilgrims visit it each day.

 Institutional Christian monasticism seems to have begun in the deserts in AD 4th century Egypt as a kind of living martyrdom. Scholars such as Lester K. Little attribute the rise of monasticism at this time to the immense changes in the church that had been brought about by Constantine's acceptance of Christianity as the main Roman religion. This ended the position of Christians as a small group that believed itself to be the godly elite. In response a new more advanced form of dedication was developed to preserve a nucleus of the dedicated. The end of persecution also meant that martyrdom was no longer an option to prove one's piety. Instead the long-term "martyrdom" of the ascetic became common.

Many Egyptian Christians went to the desert during the 3rd century, and remained there to pray and work and dedicate their lives to seclusion and worship of God. This was the beginning of the monastic movement, which was organized by Anthony the Great, Saint Paul, the world's first anchorite, Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Pachomius the Cenobite in the 4th century.
Pachomius spent most of his time at his Pabau monastery. From his initial monastery, demand quickly grew and, by the time of his death in 345, one count estimates there were 3000 monasteries dotting Egypt from north to south. Within a generation after his death, this number grew to 7000 and then moved out of Egypt into Palestine and the Judea Desert, Syria, North Africa and eventually Western Europe.

Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai Egypt

St Catherine Monastery, Sinai
Saint Catherine's Monastery commonly known as Santa Katarina lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the UNESCO report (60100 ha / Ref: 954), this monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world together with the Monastery of Saint Anthony, situated across the Red Sea in the desert south of Cairo, which also lays claim to that title. In the area around the monastery, a small town has grown, with hotels and swimming pools, called Saint Katherine City.

The oldest record of monastic life at Sinai comes from the travel journal written in Latin by a woman named Egeria about 381-384. She visited many places around the Holy Land and Mount Sinai, where, according to the Hebrew Bible, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.

Beheading of Catherine of Alexandria
Albrecht Altdorfer 1506
The monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565), enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush ordered to be built by Helena, the mother of Constantine I, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush; the living bush on the grounds is purportedly the original. It is also referred to as "St. Helen's Chapel." The site is sacred to Christianity and Islam.

According to tradition, Catherine of Alexandria was a Christian martyr initially sentenced to death on the wheel. However, when this failed to kill her, she was beheaded. According to tradition, angels took her remains to Mount Sinai. Around the year 800, monks from the Sinai Monastery found her remains. Though it is commonly known as Saint Catherine's, the full, official name of the monastery is the Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai, and the patronal feast of the monastery is the Transfiguration. The relics of Saint Catherine of Alexandria were purported to have been miraculously transported there by angels and it became a favorite site of pilgrimage.

Monasticism  Coptic Foundation

Christian Monasticism was born in Egypt and was instrumental in the formation of the Coptic Orthodox Church character of submission, simplicity and humility, thanks to the teachings and writings of the Great Fathers of Egypt's Deserts. By the end of the fifth century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian desert. A great number of these monasteries are still flourishing and have new vocations to this day.

All Christian monasticism stems, either directly or indirectly, from the Egyptian example: Saint Basil the Great Archbishop of Caesaria of Cappadocia, founder and organizer of the monastic movement in Asia Minor, visited Egypt around 357 A.D. and his rule is followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches; Saint Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin, came to Egypt, while en route to Jerusalem, around 400 A.D. and left details of his experiences in his letters; Saint Benedict founded the Benedictine Order in the sixth century on the model of Saint Pachomius, but in a stricter form. Countless pilgrims have visited the "Desert Fathers" to emulate their spiritual, disciplined lives.

The Coptic monasticism took three forms:
  • Monarchism
  • The Coenobitic System
  • The Communal System or Semi-eremitic Life


Modern Coptic Monasticism

Deir as-Suriani Monastery ,Wadi Natrun (Egypt)
The Coptic Orthodox Church has many Monasteries and convents that host many Monks and Nuns. All of the Coptic Bishops are chosen from monks, although this was not necessary traditionally. Coptic Monasticism saw a revival that started in the 1960s during the papacy of Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria, and currently there are Coptic Monasteries and Convents in Egypt, the United States and Europe that have been recognised by the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church. There are currently 33 monasteries in Egypt and in the lands of the immigration with a total of more than 1,000 monks, and six convents with about 300 nuns.The largest monasteries, and most famous, are at Wadi Natrun, about 60 miles northwest of Cairo. They are the only four of the ancient fortified self-sufficient monasteries which have survived out of many that were in the Wadi Natroun valley.

The Wadi el Natrun is a valley located in Beheira Governorate, Egypt, including a town with the same name. The name refers to the presence of eight different lakes in the region that produce natron salt. In Christian literature it is usually known as Scetis and is one of the three early Christian monastic centers located in the desert of the northwestern Nile Delta. The other two monastic centers are Nitria and Kellia.These three centers are often easily confused and sometimes referred to as a single place (such as "Nitria" or "Nitrian Desert"), but they are three separate locales, though they are geographically close together and have interrelated histories. Scetis, now called Wadi El Natrun, is best known today because it still has ancient monasteries, unlike Nitria and Kellia which have only archaeological remains. The Nitrian Desert is sometimes used to mean the entire area region where the monasteries are located, or more specifically it could mean the immediate area around Nitria and Kellia, with the region around Wadi El Natrun sometimes called the Scetis Desert.

Monastic Manuscripts and Iconoclasm

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), 
6th-century  Byzantine
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.
Saint Catherine's Monastery  possesses copies of an important historical document, the Achtiname, in which Muhammad is claimed to have bestowed his protection upon the monastery.In May 1844, Konstantin von Tischendorf visited the monastery for research and discovered the Codex Sinaiticus from the 4th Century, the oldest almost completely preserved manuscript of the Bible. Prior to September 1, 2009, a previously unseen fragment of Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in the monastery's library.

Meanwhile, the most important manuscripts have been filmed or digitized, and so accessible to the science. This is certainly not for the discoveries of 1975, which previously could be viewed and evaluated exclusively by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland from the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany in 1982.

The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library. It contains Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Georgian, and Syriac texts. The Codex Sinaiticus, now in the British Library, left the monastery in the 19th century for Russia, in circumstances that are now disputed.
The complex houses irreplaceable works of art: mosaics, the best collection of early icons in the world, many in encaustic, as well as liturgical objects, chalices and reliquaries, and church buildings. The large icon collection begins with a few dating to the 5th (possibly) and 6th centuries, which are unique survivals, the monastery having been untouched by Byzantine iconoclasm, and never sacked. The oldest icon on an Old Testament theme is also preserved there. A project to catalogue the collections has been ongoing since the 1960s. The monastery was an important centre for the development of the hybrid style of Crusader art, and still retains over 120 icons created in the style, by far the largest collection in existence. Many were evidently created by Latins, probably monks, based in or around the monastery in the 13th century.

Coptic literature

Examples of purely Coptic literature are the works of Saint Anthony and Saint Pachomius, who only spoke Coptic, and the sermons and preachings of Saint Shenouda the Archmandrite, who chose to only write in Coptic. Saint Shenouda was a popular leader who only spoke to the Egyptians in Egyptian language (Coptic), the language of the repressed, not in Greek, the language of the rulers.
The earliest original writings in Coptic language were the letters by Saint Anthony. During the 3rd and 4th centuries many ecclesiastics and monks wrote in Coptic.

A transitional form of monasticism was later created by Saint Amun in which “solitary” monks lived close enough to one another to offer mutual support as well as gathering together on Sundays for common services.

It was St. Pachomios who developed the idea of having monks live together and worship together under the same roof (Coenobitic Monasticism). Soon the Egyptian desert blossomed with monasteries, especially around Nitria, which was called the "Holy City". Estimates are the upwards of 50,000 monks lived in this area at any one time.

References:  *Courtesy of Wikipedia,

Tomorrow's Snippet:

Part III of IV: Oldest Christian Monasteries in Europe