1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pachomius, St
PACHOMIUS, ST (292-346), Egyptian monk, the founder of Christian cenobitical life, was born, probably in 292, at Esna in Upper Egypt, of heathen parents. He served as a conscript in one of Constantine's campaigns, and on his return became a Christian (314); he at once went to live an eremitical life near Dendera by the Nile, putting himself under the guidance of an aged hermit. After three or four years he was called (by an angel, says the legend) to establish a monastery of cenobites, or monks living in common (see Monasticism, § 4). Pachomius spent his life in organizing and directing the great order he had created, which at his death included nine monasteries with some three thousand monks and a nunnery. The order was called Tabennesiot, from Tabennisi, near Dendera, the site of the first monastery. The most vivid account of the life and primitive rule is that given by Palladius in the Lausiac History, as witnessed by him (c. 410). Difficulties arose between Pachomius and the neighbouring bishops, which had to be composed at a synod at Esna. But St Athanasius was his firm friend and visited his monastery c. 330 and at a later period. Pachomius died (probably) in 346.
The best modern work on Pachomius is by P. Ladeuze, Le Cénobitisme pakhomien (1898). There have been differences of opinion in regard to the dates; those given above are Ladeuze's, now commonly accepted. The priority of the Greek Life of Pachomius over the Coptic may be said to be established; the historical character and value of this life are now fully recognized. A good analysis of all the literature is supplied in Herzog's Realencyklopädie (ed. 3).
- (E. C. B.)