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Catholic Dictionary




The first systematic rule of life for a religious community, drawn up by St. Pachomius (290-346), the Egyptian founder of cenobitic Christian monasticism. It provided for a large number of monks under one head. There were three levels of superiors: the abbot over all the monasteries, a subordinate superior (praepositus) over individual communities, and a leader (hebdomadarius) who was appointed on a weekly basis to call the monks to prayer, lead the Divine Office, and relay directives from the superior. When Pachomius died, there were nine monasteries of men and two of women under his rule. He was head of seven thousand religious, thirteen hundred of whom were at Tabennesi on the bank of the Nile, and groups of two to three hundred were in smaller foundations.