Saint Pakhom

Father of Spiritual Communal Monastic Life
Born ca. 292
Thebes, Egypt
Died 9 May 348(348-05-09)
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Coptic Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Eastern Catholic Churches
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Lutheran Church
Feast May 9
14 Pashons (Coptic Orthodox)
Roman Catholic Benedictines and the Eastern Orthodox celebrate his feast day on May 15.
Attributes Hermit in a garb, Hermit crossing the Nile on the back of a crocodile

Saint Pakhom (Coptic: Ⲁⲃⲃⲁ Ⲡⲁϧⲱⲙ; ca. 292-348), also known as Pachome and Pakhomius (Greek: Παχώμιος), 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.[1]



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.[2] Other sources maintain that the number of monks, rather than the number of monasteries, may have reached 7000.[3][4]

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.

Coptic literature

Examples of purely Coptic literature are the works of Abba Antonius and Abba Pachomius, who spoke only Coptic, and the sermons and preachings of Abba Shenouda, who chose to write only in Coptic.

The Pachomian system tended to treat religious literature as mere written instructions.

The earliest original writings in Coptic language were the letters by St. Anthony of Egypt, first of the “Desert Fathers.” During the 3rd and 4th centuries many ecclesiastics and monks wrote in Coptic, among them, St. Pachomius, whose monastic rule (the first cenobitic rule, for solitary monks gathered in communities) survives only in Coptic. St. Athanasius, is the first Patriarch of Alexandria to use Coptic, as well as Greek.[5]

See also


  1. ^ (Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Παχώμιος ὁ Μέγας. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  2. ^ Kenneth W. Harl (2001), The World of Byzantium, ISBN 1565850904 (audio recording)
  3. ^ Peter Brown (Norton, 1971), The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750, pp.99
  4. ^ Philip Rousseau (University of California Press, 1985), Pachomius: the Making of a Community in Fourth-Century Egypt, pp.74-75
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pachomius — ? Pachomius …   Википедия

  • Pachomĭus — Pachomĭus, der Heilige, Begründer des cönobitischen Mönchtums (s. Kloster, S. 155), geb. um 292, gest. 9. Mai 346, erbaute in Tabennisi am Ostufer des Nils, nördlich von Theben, das erste Kloster, dem andre folgten; noch zu seinen Lebzeiten wuchs …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Pachomius — Pachomĭus, Schüler des heil. Antonius, vereinigte zuerst die Einsiedler zu gemeinschaftlicher Aszese, Gründer des ersten Klosters auf der Nilinsel Tabennä um 325; gest. 348. – Vgl. Grützmacher (1896) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Pachomius, St. — Pachomius, St., geb. um 292 n. Chr. in der Oberthebais in Aegypten, anfangs Heide u. Soldat, dann christlicher Ascet, gest. 348 an der Pest. Begründer des eigentlichen Klosterwesens, indem er um 325 bei oder auf der Nilinsel Tabenna ein Kloster… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • PACHOMIUS — Abbas Aegyptius, ex militeidololatra Licinii, vel Maxentii. discipulus Palaemonis Eremitae, super serpentes ambulâsse, et a Crocodilis ab una Nili ripa in alteram transvectus esse, fertur. Ad populum phaleras! Variis monasteriis conditis, obiit A …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Pachomius — Pachomius …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pachomius, S. (3) — 3S. Pachomius (Pacomius), Abb. (14. al. 7. Mai). Das Leben dieses heil. Abtes und Klosterstifters ist im Morgen und Abendlande bekannt. Ursprünglich griechisch geschrieben, wurde es von dem römischen Abt Dionysius, der Kleine zugenannt, in s… …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Pachomius — (c. 290–346)    Saint and Order Founder.    Little certain is known of the life of Pachomius. He was born into a pagan family in Egypt, but was converted to Christianity after serving for a time as a soldier. In c. 320 he settled in Tabennisi and …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Pachomius — Pachomios der Ältere, oder der Große (* um 292/298 in Esneh, Ägypten; † 346 in Pbow) war ein christlicher Heiliger, ägyptischer Mönch und der Gründer der ersten christlichen Klöster. Sein Festtag ist der 14. (in der orthodoxen Kirche der 15.) Mai …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pachomĭus, St. — St. Pachomĭus, geb. um 292 n. Chr. in der Thebais in Ägypten; als Soldat unter Constantin dem Großen zum Christenthum bekehrt, ging er als Einsiedler in die Thebaische Wüste u. gründete 330 auf der Nilinsel Tabenna ein Cönobium, worin er früher… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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