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*Paxw/mios), as Socrates and Palladius write the name, or PACHU'MIUS (Παχούμιος), according to the author of the Vita Pachumii, an Egyptian ascetic of the fourth century, one of the founders, if not pre-eminently the founder of regular monastic communities. "The respect which the Church at present entertains," says Tillemont (Mém. vol. vii. p. 167), "for the name of St. Pachonmius, is no new feeling, but a just recognition of the obligations which she is under to him, as the holy founder of a great number of monasteries; or rather as the institutor, not only of certain convents, but of the conventual life itself, and of the holy communities of men devoted to a religious life." Of this eminent person there is a prolix life, Βίος τοῦ Παχουμίου, Vita S. Pachumii, in barbarous Greek, the translation perhaps of a Sahidic original, by a monk of the generation immediately succeeding Pachomius; also there is a second memoir, or extracts of a memoir, either by the writer of the life, or by some other writer of the same period, supplementary to the first work, and to which the title Paralipomena de SS. Pachomnio et Tleodoro has been prefixed; and there is an account of Pachomius, in a letter from Ammon, an Egyptian bishop, to Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria : Ἐπιστολὴ Ἀμμῶνος ἐπισκόπου περὶ πολιτείας καὶ βίου μερικοῦ Παχουμίου καὶ Θεοδώρου, eristola Ammonis Episcopi de Conversatione ac Vitae Parte Pachumii et Theodori. All these pieces are given by the Bollandists, both in a Latin version (pp. 295-357), and in the original (Appendix, pp. 25*--71*) in the Acta Sanctorum, Maii, vol. iii. with the usual introduction by Papebroche.

Pachomilus was born in the Thebaid, of heathen parents, and was educated in heathenism; and, while a lad, going with his parents to offer sacrifice in one of the temples of the gods, was hastily expelled by the order of the priest as an enemy of the gods. The incident was afterwards recorded as a prognostic of his subsequent conversion and saintly eminlence. At the age of twenty he was drawn for military service in one of the civil wars which followed the death of Constantias Chlorus, in A. D. 306. The author of the Vita Pachumii says that he was levied for the service of Constantine the Great, in one of his struggles for the empire. Tillemont thinks that the war referred to was Constantine's war with Maxentius in A. D. 312, but supposes that Pachomius was drawn to serve in the army of Maximin II., in his nearly contemporary struggle against Licinius, as it is difficult to conceive that Constantine should be allowed to raise troops by conscription in Egypt, then governed by his jealous partner in the empire, Maximin. A similar difficulty applies to all Constantine's civil contests, until after the final overthrow of Licinius in A. D. 323, and the only civil war of Constantine after that was against Calocerus in Cyprus, in 335 ; the date of which is altogether too late, as Pachomius (Epistol. Ammon. 100.6) was converted in the tine of Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, who died A. D. 326. It is likely, therefore, that the mention of Constantine's name is an error of the biographer, and that Tillemont is right in thinking that the conscription in which Pachomius was drawn was ordered by Maximin II. We may, therefore, with Tillemont, fix the time of Pachomius birth in A. D. 292. Papebroche makes the war to be that of Diocletian (under whom Constantine, then a youth, was serving) against the usurper Achilles,A. D. 296, but this supposition is inadmissible.

The conscripts were embarked in a boat and conveyed down the Nile; and being landed at Thebes, were placed in confinement, apparently to prevent desertion. Here they were visited and relieved by the Christians of the place, and a grateful curiosity led Pachomius to inquire into the character and opinions of the charitable strangers. Struck with what he heard of them, he seized the first opportunity of solitude to offer the simple and touching prayer, "O God, the creator of heaven and earth, if thou wilt indeed look upon my low estate, notwithstanding my ignorance of thee, the only true God, and wilt deliver me from this affliction, I will obey thy will all the days of my life, and will love and serve all men according to thy commandment." He was, however, obliged to accompany his fellow-conscripts, and suffered many hardships during this period of enforced service : but the settlement of the contest having released him from it, he hastened back into the Thebaid, and was baptized in the church of Chenoboscia, near the city of Diospolis the Less; and, aspiring at pre-eminent holiness, commenced an ascetic life, under the guidance of Palaemon, an anchoret of high repute. After a time, he withdrew with Palaemon to Tabenna, or Tabenesis, which appears to have been in an island or on the bank of the Nile, near the common boundary of the Theban and Tentyrite nomi. Some time after this removal his companion Palaemon died, but whether he died at Tabenna, or whether he had returned to his previous abode, is not clear. Pachomius found, however, another companion in his own elder brother Joannes, or John, who became his disciple. But his sphere of influence was now to be enlarged. Directed by what he regarded as a Divine intimation, he began to incite men to embrace a monastic life; and obtaining first three disciples, and then many more, formed them into a community, and prescribed rules for their guidance. As the community grew in number, he appointed the needful officers for their regulation and instruction. He built a church as a place of worship and instruction for the poor shepherds of the neighbourhood, to whom, as there was no other reader, he read the Scriptures. The bishop of Tentyra would have raised him to the rank of presbyter, and requested Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, when visiting the Thebaid, to ordain him : but Pachomius, being aware of the design, hid himself until the patriarch had departed. His refusal of the office of presbyter did not diminish his reputation or influence; new disciples flocked to him, of whom Theodorus or Theodore was the most illustrious, new monasteries sprung up in his neighbourhood, including one for women, founded by his sister. Of these several communities he was visitor and regulator general, appointing his disciple Theodore superior of his original monastery of Tabenna, and himself removing to the monastery of Proü, which was made the head of the monasteries of the district. He died of a pestilential disorder, which had broken out among the monks, apparently in A. D. 348, a short time before the death or expulsion of the Arian patriarch, Gregory [GREGORIUS, No. 3], and the restoration of Athanasius [ATHANASIUS], at the age, if his birth is rightly fixed in A. D. 292, of fifty-six. Some place his death in A. D. 360.

In speaking of Pachomius as the founder of monastic institutions, it must not be supposed that he was the founder of the monastic life. Antonius, Ammonas, Paulus and others [ANTONIUS; AMMONAS ; PAULUS] had devoted themselves to religious solitude before him; and even the practice of persons living all ascetic life in small communities existed before him; but in these associations there was no recognized order or government. What Pachomius did was to form communities on a regular plan, directed by a fixed rule of life, and subject to inspection and control. Such monastic communities as existed before him had no regularity, no permanence : those which he arranged were regularly constituted bodies, the continuity of whose existence was not interrupted by the death of individuals. Miracles, especially divine visions, angelic conversations, and the utterance of prophecies, are ascribed to him, but not in such number as to some others.


There are various pieces extant under the name of Pachomius :--

1. Two

The Shorter Regula

One shorter preserved by Palladius (Hist. Lausiac. 100.38), and said by him to have been given to Pachomius by the angel who conveyed to him the Divine command to establish monasteries. This rule is by no means so rigid as the monastic rules of later times. Palladius reports it partly, it would seem, in the very words of the original, partly in substance only. He adds that the monasteries at Tabenna and in the neighbourhood, subject to the rule, contained 7000 monks, of whom 1500 were in the parent community first established by Pachomius; but it is doubtful if this is to be understood of the original monastery of Tabenna, or that of Proü.

The longer Regula

The longer Regula, said to have been written in the Egyptian (Sahidic ?) language, and translated into Greek, is extant in a Latin version made from the Greek by Jerome. It is preceded by a Praefatio, in which Jerome gives an account of the monasteries of Tabenna as they were in his time. Cave (Hist. Lift. ad ann. 340, vol. i. p. 208, ed. Oxford, 1740-1743) disputes the genuineness of this Regula, and questions not only the title of Pachomius to the authorship of it, but also the title of Jerome to be regarded as the translator. He thinks that it may embody the rule of Pachomius as augmented by his successors. It is remarkable that this Regula, which comprehends in all a hundred and ninety-four articles, is divided into several parts, each with separate titles; and Tillemont supposes that they are separate pieces, collected and arranged by Benedictus Anianus.


This Regula was first published at Rome by Achilles Statius, A. D. 1575, and then by Petrus Ciacconus, also at Rome, A. D. 1588. It was inserted in the Supplementum Bibliothecae Patrum of Morellus, vol. i. Paris, 1639; in the Bibliotheca Patrum Ascetica, vol. i. Paris, 1661; in the Codex Regularum of Holstenius, Rome, A. D. 1661; and in successive editions of the Bibliotheca Patrum, from that of Cologn. A. D. 1618: it appears in vol. iv. of the edition of Lyon, A. D. 1677, and in vol. iv. of the edition of Galland, Venice, A. D. 1765, &c. It is given also in Vallarsi's edition of the works of Jerome, vol. ii. pars i.



Extant in a Latin version first published by Gerard Vossius, with the works of Gregorius Thaumaturgus, 4to. Mayence, 1604, and given in the Bibliotheca Patrum (ubi supra).


Eleven of these letters are by Pachomius. They abound in incomprehensible allusions to certain mysteries contained in or signified by the letters of the Greek alphabet. They are extant in the Latin version of Jerome (Opera, l.c. Bibliotheca Patrum, l.c.).


Jerome subjoined them as an appendix to the Regula, but without explaining, probably without understanding, the hidden signification of the alphabetical characters, which were apparently employed as ciphers, to which the correspondents of Pachomius had the key (comp. Gennadius, De Viris Illustr. e. 7; Sozom. I H. E. 3.14).

4. Ἐκτῶν ᾿εντολῶν τοῦ ἁγίου Παχουμίου, s.


First published in the Acta Sanctorum, Maii, vol. iii. in Latin in the body of the work, p. 346, and in the original Greek in the Appendix, p. 62*, and reprinted in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Galland, vol. iv., where all the extant works of Pachomius are given.

Further Information

The chief authorities for the life and works of Pachomius are cited in the course of the article; add Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ix. p. 312, &c.


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