Catholic Dictionary

Term

FATHERS OF THE DESERT

Definition

The hermits and monks of the early Church who developed religious life from its Gospel origins and laid the groundwork for all future institutes of Christian perfection. Since most of them lived in the deserts of Egypt, from the third through the fourth centuries, they are called Desert Fathers. The standard collection of the lives of these Fathers is in ten volumes and contains the biographies of Sts. Paul, Anthony, and Hilarion, and of the women religious Sts. Eugenie, Euphrasia, Euphrosyne, Mary the Egyptian, and many others.