Gyrovagues (sometimes Gyrovagi or Gyruvagi) were wandering or
itinerant monks without fixed residence or leadership, who relied on charity and the hospitality of others.
The term is used to refer to a kind of monk, rather than a specific order, and may be pejorative as they are almost universally denounced by
Christianwriters of the Early Middle Ages. They were denounced as wretched by Benedict of Nursia, who accused them of indulging their passions and cravings. Augustine called them Circumcelliones and attributed the selling of fake relics as their innovation. Cassian also mentions a class of monk, which may have been identical, who were reputed to be gluttons who refused to fast at the proper times.
Up until the time of
Benedict, several attempts had been made by various synods at suppressing and disciplining monks who refused to settle in a cloister. With the establishment of the Rule of St. Benedictin the 8th century, the cenobiticand eremiticforms of monasticismbecame the accepted form of monasticism within the Christian Church, and the wandering monk phenomenon faded into obscurity.
After the eighth century, the term Gyrovagi was sometimes used pejoratively to refer to degenerate monks within a
monastery, or to travelling salesmen.
Rule of St. Benedict
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge
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