« Orosius, Paulus Pachomius, St Palladius, bp. of Helenopolis »

Pachomius, St

Pachomius (1), St., founder of the famous monasteries of Tabenna in Upper Egypt; one of the first to collect solitary ascetics together under a rule. Beyond a brief mention in Sozomen, who praises his gentleness and suavity (H. E. iii. 14), the materials for his biography are of questionable authenticity. Athanasius, during his visit to Rome, made the name Pachomius familiar to the church there through Marcella and others, to whom he held up Pachomius and his Tabennensian monks as a bright example (Hieron. Ep. 127, ad Principium). Rosweyd gives a narrative of his life in Latin, being a translation by Dionysius Exiguus, in the 6th cent., of a biography said to be written by a contemporary monk of Tabenna (Vit. Patr. in Pat. Lat. lxxiii. 227). If we may trust this writer, Pachomius was born of wealthy pagan parents in Lower Egypt, before the council of Nicaea. He served in his youth under Constantine in the campaign against Maxentius, which placed Constantine alone on the throne. The kindness shewn by Christians to him and his comrades in distress led him to become a Christian. He attached himself to a hermit, celebrated for his sanctity and austerities. He and Palaemon supported themselves by weaving the shaggy tunics (cilicia), the favourite dress of Egyptian monks. He became a monk, and many prodigies are related of his power over demons, and in resisting the craving for sleep and food (Vit. cc. 40, 44, 45, 47, 48, etc., ap. Rosw. V. P.). His reputation for holiness soon drew to him many who desired to embrace the monastic life, and without, apparently, collecting them into one monastery, he provided for their organization. The bishop of a neighbouring diocese sent for him to regulate the monks there. Pachomius seems also to have done some missionary work in his own neighbourhood. Athanasius, visiting Tabenna, was eagerly welcomed by Pachomius, who, in that zeal for orthodoxy which was a characteristic of monks generally, is said to have flung one of Origen's writings into the water, exclaiming that he would have cast it into the fire, but that it contained the name of God. He lived to a good old age (Niceph. H. E. ix. 14). The Bollandists (Acta 795SS. 14 Mai. iii. 287) give the Acta of Pachomius by a nearly contemporary author, in a Latin trans. from the original Greek MSS., with notes and commentary by Papebroch. Pachomius died (Acta, § 77), aged 57, about the time Athanasius returned to his see under Constantius, i.e. a.d. 349, as computed by Papebroch. Miraeus (Schol. to Gennad. Scr. Eccl. c. 7) makes him flourish in 340; Trithemius in 390, under Valentinian and Theodosius. Sigebert (Chron. ann. 405) puts his death in 405 at the age of 110. Portus Veneris, now Porto Venere, a small town on the N.W. coast of Italy, near Spezia, claims that his body rests there. Cf. Amélineau, Etude historique sur S. Pach. (Cairo, 1887); also Grützmacher, Pachomius und das Alteste Klosterleben (Freiburg, 1896).

[I.G.S.]

« Orosius, Paulus Pachomius, St Palladius, bp. of Helenopolis »
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