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The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 319
invaded by multitudes who desired him to be their spiritual
guide and at length, in 305, he consented and formed a com-
munity at Pispir, himself retiring farther into the desert and
occupying a cave in the face of a cliff. From time to time he
visited his community and gave instructions, and has left a
written rule containing precepts for their guidance. This rule,
composed in Coptic, was translated into Greek by St. Athanasius.
It seems to date from about 310. In 311, during Maximin's
persecution, he went down to Alexandria to encourage those
imprisoned for the faith, and as an aged man in 338 again visited
Alexandria to support Athanasius in his controversy witli the
Arians. His cave is still shown. Near the base of the cliff is the
monastery of Mar Antuni, which claims to be the oldest mon-
astery in Egypt. But towards the end of the fifteenth century
the Arab serfs who served the monastery and the neighbouring
monastery of Abu Bolos (Father Paul) rose up and massacred the
monks, and the monasteries lay desolate until they were re-
colonized in comparatively modern times, so there has not been
continuous occupation.
The coenobitic or community life of ascetes was inaugurated
by St. Antony, but its full organization was the work of St.
Pakhom (d. c. 349). He differed from St. Antony in making
his monks an organized society under strict discipline, all engaged
in the practice of various crafts whereby they earned their liveli-
hood. At first Pakhom was a member of a community of ascetes
directed by an aged hermit named Palaemon, but he left it in
305 and founded a separate community at Tabennesi, a ruined
village near Akhmim. At Palaemon's death most of his disciples
joined the new community at TabennesL As numbers increased
Pakhom removed to Pabau, a little to the north, and there
founded a second house which became the head-quarters of
what very much resembled a monastic order, a confederation
of monasteries, all observing the same rule and under one central
control. The organization was on semi-military lines—the