Books on the Desert Fathers

Desert Fathers & Other Early Monastics

  • Paul of Thebes, also called Paul the Hermit, c. 227-341 (opens new windowabout)
    • biographical treatise by Jerome that describes Antony's quest to find Paul the Hermit, who was the first of the Christian hermits
  • Anthony the Great, 251-356
    • Athanasius' Life of St. Antony
  • Chariton
    • first monk in Palestine
  • Hilarion
  • Ammonas
  • Pachomius, c. 290-346 (opens new windowabout)
    • founds first cenobitic community at Tabennesi
  • Paphnutius
  • Eufinus of Aquileia
  • Jerome
    • founds a monastery near Bethlehem
    • translates Pachomius' Rule into Latin
  • opens new windowJohn Cassian, c. 360–c. 435 (opens new windowabout)
    • writes his Conferences and Institutes
  • Palladius of Helenopolis
  • Simeon Stylites
    • lives on a pillar in Antioch
  • Life of St. Martin of Tours by Sulpicius Severus, c. 363-c. 420
  • Lausiac History by Palladius, c. 363–c. 430
  • opens new windowApophthegmata Patrum ("Sayings of the Fathers"), c. end of 5th c.
  • Benedict of Nursia

Desert Mothers

3 Kinds of Desert Monasticism

  • The hermit life: Characterized by isolation and austerity. Modeled by St. Antony. Located in lower Egypt
  • The cenobitic life: A communal life of prayer and work. Modeled by the communities of monks or nuns led by Pachomius. Located in upper Egypt
  • The semi-eremitic or the semi-cenobitic way, or middle way: A loosely connected group of monastic units, each comprised of two to six members, who followed a common spiritual elder, the first being Ammoun. Found in Nitria and Scetis, west of the mouth of the Nile River. Several of these cells would convene for communal worship on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the "sayings of the Desert Fathers" came from this middle way.
  • Adapted from John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (34)

Coptic Desert Fathers

  • Pambo
  • Evagrius Pontus, 345-399
    • Influenced John Cassian, 380-465
    • "If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray, you are a theologian."
    • Integrated theology and prayer
  • Macarius the Great, c. 300-390
    • founded monastery at Scetis
  • Macarius of Alexandria
  • Arsenius, 354-449
    • tutored the sons of Emperor Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius
    • disciple of John the Dwarf
  • Poemen, d. c. 449
  • Moses the Robber
    • martyred c. 375