Monk (derived from the Latin nonachus, and that from the Greek μοναχός, i.e., solitary, which in its turn is derived from the word μόνος, Lat. solus, designating a person who lives sequestered from the company and conversation of the rest of the world) is a term: applied to those who dedicate themselves wholly to the service of religion, in some building set apart for such ascetics, and known as a monastery (q.v.) or religious house, and who are under tie direction of some particular statute or rule. Those of the female sex who lead such a life are denominated Nuns (q.v.).
Riddle (Christian Antiquities, page 777 sq.) furnishes the following as the chief names by which monks have been designated:
(1) Α᾿σκητής, i.e., ascetic. This name, borrowed from the Greek profane writers, was originally applied to athletes, or prize-fighters in the public games. In early ecclesiastical writers it is usually equivalent to ἐγκρατής, continent; and Tertullian renders both words alike by continens (in a technical sense). Sometimes they use ἀσκητής in the sense of ἄγαμος, cealebs, unmarried.
(2) Μοναχοί, or (more rarely) μονάζοντες, i.e., solitaries, is a term which denotes generally all who addict themselves to a retired or solitary life; and it was usually applied, not merely to such as retired to absolute solitude in caves and deserts, but also to such as lived apart from the rest of the world in separate' societies. Since the 3d and 4th centuries this name has been almost universally employed as the common designation of religious solitaries, or members of religious societies, and has passed into various languages of Europe. The Syrians translate it byjechidoje (solitarii).
(3) The term ἀναχωρηταί, anachoretae or anachorite,: Engl. anchorite, is used in the rule of Benedict as synonymous with ἐρημῖται, eremitce, hermits. Other writers observe a distinction in conformity with the etymology of the two words, restricting the application of the term anachoretce to those persons who led a solitary life, without retirement to a desert, and of erenitce to those who actually retired to some remote or inhospitable region. The Syrians contracted the word anachoreta into nucherite; they translated eremitae into madberoje.
(4) The term cemnobitae, cenobites, is evidently derived from the Greek κοινὸς βίος (vita communis), and refers at once to the monastic custom of living together in one place, hence called κοινόβιον, cesnobium, and to that of possessing a community of property, and observing common rules of life. The term συνοδῖται, synoditae (Cod. Theodos. lib. 11, tit. 31, 1. 37), has the same signification, being derived froman σύνοδος; so that it may be rendered conventualis. The Syrians express the same by the words -dairoje and oumroje.
(5) In the rule of Benedict we find mention of gyrovagi, certain wandering monks, who are there charged with having occasioned great disorder.
(6) Στυλῖται, stylitee, pillarists, a kind of monk so called from their practice of living on a pillar. Simeon Stylites and a few others made themselves remarkable by this mode of severe life, but it was not generally adopted (Evagr. Hist. Eccl. lib. 1, c. 13; lib. 6, c. 23; Theodor. Lect. lib. 2).
(7) We find also a large number of other classes of monks and ascetics, which are worthy of remark only as furnishing a proof of the high esteem in which a monastic life was held in the early Church.: Such are: i. Σπουδαῖοι (studios!), a sect of ascetics who practiced uncommon austerities (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. 6, c. 11; Epiphan. Expos. Fid. c. 22). ii. Ε᾿κλεκτοί, or ἐκλεκτῶν ἐκλεκτότεροι, the elect, or elect of the elect (Clem. Alex. Quis Dives Salv. n. 36). iii. Α᾿κοίμητοι, insomnes, the sleepless, or the watchers; a term applied especially to the members of a monastery (στούδιον) near Constantinople (Niceph. Hist. Eccl. lib. 15:c.
23; Baron. Annal. a. 459), iv. Βοσκοί, i.e., the grazers; so called because they professed to subsist on roots and herbs, like cattle (Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. lib. 6, c. 33; Evagr. Hist. Eccl. lib. 1, c. 21). v. ῾Ησυχασταί, quiescentes, or quietistce, quietists, monks who lived by themselves in perpetual silence (Justin. Novell. 5, c. 3; Suicer. Thesaur. Eccl. s.v. ἡσυχαστής). vi. Α᾿ποταξάμενοι, renunciantes, renouncers; so called from their formal renunciation of the world and secular enjoyments (Pallad. Hist. Laus. c. 15). vii. Culdai, Colidei, Keldei, Keiedei, certain ancient monks in Scotland and the Hebrides, supposed to have been so called as cultores Dei, worshippers of God, because they were wholly occupied in preaching the Gospel. Some suppose that they were priests; others regarded them as canons regular; others; again, that they constituted a secret society, and were the forerunners of the modern Freemasons. 8. Apostolici, apostolicals, monks in England and Ireland, before the arrival of the Benedictines, with Augustine, at the latter end of the 6th century.
There were the following orders of monks: 1, those of Basil-Greek monks and Carmelites; 2, those of Augustine, in three classes — canons regular, monks, and hermits; 3, those of Benedict; and, 4, those of St. Francis: all of which names may be consulted in their respective places. Monks are now distinguished by the color of their habits into black, white, gray, etc. The ancient dress was the colobium or lebitus, a linen sleeveless dress; a melotes or pera, a goatskin halit; a cowl, covering the head and shoulders; the maforta, a smaller cowl, cross-shaped over the shoulders; and a black pall. St. Benedict introduced during manual labor the lighter scapular, reaching from the shoulders down the back, and the cowl became a habit of ceremony, and worn in choir. Borrowing the language of the regular and secular canons, the monks at length, when in their common habits they attended choir, called it ordinary service days, "dies in cappis," in distinction to "dies in allis," "days in surplices or festivals," the cope being black like the frock. There are different classes of monks: some are called monks of the choir, others professed monks, and others lay monks; which latter are destined for the service of the convents, and have neither clericate nor literature. Cloistered monks are those who actually reside in the house, in opposition to extra monks, who have benefices depending on the monastery. Monks are also distinguished into reformed, whom the civil and ecclesiastical authority have made masters of ancient convents, and enabled to retrieve the ancient discipline, which had been relaxed; and ancient, who remain in the convent, to livein it according to its establishment at the time when they made their vows, without obliging themselves to any new reform.
Among the remarkable institutions of Christianity which have prevailed in the Roman Catholic and the Greek Church, there is none that makes a more conspicuous figure than the institution of monachism or monkery; and, if traced to its origin, it will be found strikingly to exemplify the truth of the maxim that, as some of the largest and loftiest trees spring from very small seeds, so the most extensive and wonderful effects sometimes arise from very inconsiderable causes. In times of persecution during the first ages of the Church, while "the heathen raged, and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed," many pious Christians, male and female, married and unmarried, justly accounting that no human felicity ought to come in competition with their fidelity to Christ, and diffident of their own ability to persevere in resisting the temptations with which they were incessantly harassed by their persecutors, took the resolution to abandon their professions and worldly prospects, and, while the storm lasted, to retire to unfrequented places far from the haunts of men (the married with or without their wives, as agreed between them), that they might enjoy in quietness their faith and hope, and, exempt from the temptations to apostasy, employ themselves principally in the worship and service of their Maker. The cause was reasonable and the motive praiseworthy, but the reasonableness arose solely from the circumstances. When the latter were changed the former vanished, and the motive could no longer be the same. When there was not the same danger in society, there was not the same occasion to seek security in solitude. .Accordingly, when persecution ceased, and the profession of Christianity was rendered perfectly safe, many returned without blame from their retirement and resumed their stations in society. Some, indeed, familiarized by time to a solitary life, at length preferred, through habit, what they had originally adopted through necessity. SEE ASCETICS; SEE HERMITS. They did not, however, waste their time in idleness: they supported themselves by their labor, and gave the surplus in charity. But they never thought of flattering themselves by vows or engagements, because by so doing they must have exposed their souls to new temptations and perhaps greater dangers. It was, therefore, a very different thing from that system of monkery which afterwards became so prevalent, though in all probability it constituted the first step towards it.
Egypt, the fruitful parent of superstition, afforded the first. example, strictly speaking, of the monastic life. The first and most noted of the solitaries was Paul, a native of Thebes, who, in the time of Athanasius, distributed his patrimony, deserted his family and house, and took up his residence among the tombs and in a ruined tower. After a long and painful novitiate, he at length advanced three days' journey into the desert, to the eastward of the Nile, where, discovering a lonely spot which possessed the advantages of shade and water, he fixed his last abode. His example and his lessons infected others, whose curiosity pursued him to the desert; and before he quitted life, which was prolonged to the term of one hundred and five years, he beheld a numerous progeny imitating his original. The prolific colonies of monks multiplied with rapid increase on the sands of Lybia, upon the rocks of Thebais, and the cities of the Nile. But there were no bodies or communities of men embracing this life, nor any monasteries built, until Pachomius, who flourished in the peaceable reign of Constantine, caused some to be erected, SEE MONASTERY. Once the custom established, they soon multiplied, and even to the present day the traveller may explore the ruins of fifty monasteries which were planted to the south of Alexandria by the disciples of Pachomius. Inflamed by this example, a Syrian youth, whose name was Hilarion, fixed his dreary abode on a sandy beach, between the sea and a morass, about seven miles from Gaza. The austere penance in which he persisted for forty-eight years diffused a similar enthusiasm, and innumerable monasteries were soon distributed over all Palestine. Not long after, Eustathius, bishop of Sebastia, brought monks into Armenia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus. While Macarius, the Egyptian, peopled the deserts of Scethis with monks, Gregory, the apostle of Armenia, did the like in that country. But St. Basil is generally considered as the great father and patriarch of the Eastern monks. It was he who reduced the monastic life to a fixed state of uniformity; who united the anchorets and coenobites, and obliged them to engage themselves by solemn vows. It was St. Basil who prescribed rules for the government and direction of the monasteries, to which most of the disciples of Anthony, Pachomius, Macarius, and the other ancient fathers of the deserts submitted; and to this day all the Greeks, Nestorians, Melchites, Georgians, Mingrelians, and Armenians follow the rule of St. Basil. In the West, Athanasius (about A.D. 340) taught the anchorets of Italy to live in societies; and a little later Martin of Tours, "a soldier, a hermit, a bishop, and a saint," established the monasteries of Gaul, and the progress of monkery is said not to have been less rapid or less universal than that of Christianity itself. Every province, and at last every city of the empire, was filled with their increasing multitudes. The disciples of Pachomius spread themselves wherever Christianity found a foothold. The Cpuncil of Saragossa, in Spain (A.D. 380), in condemning the practice of clergymen who affected to wear the monastical habits, affords proof that there were monks in that kingdom in the 4th century, before St. Donatus went thither out of Africa, with seventy disciples, and founded the Monastery of Sirbita. Augustine, sent into England by Gregory the Great, in the year 596, to preach the faith, at that time introduced the monastic state into British territory, and it made so great a progress there that, within the space of two hundred years, there were thirty kings and queens who preferred the religious habit to their crowns, and founded stately monasteries, where they ended their days in retirement and solitude. The monastery of Bangor, in Flintshire, a few miles south of Wrexham, contained above two thousand monks, and from thence a numerous colony was dispersed among the barbarians of Ireland, where St. Patrick is regarded as the founder of monasticism; and so readily did the monasteries multiply there that it was called "the Island of Saints." Iona, also, one of the western isles of Scotland, which was planted by the Irish monks, diffused over all northern regions a ray of science and superstition.
The ancient monks were not, like the modern, distinguished into orders, and denominated from the founders of them ; but they had their names from the places which they inhabited, as the monks of Scethis, Tabennesus, Nitra, Canopus, in Egypt, etc., or else were distinguished by their different ways of living. Of these, the most remarkable were:
1. The anchorets, so called from their retiring from society and living in private cells in the wilderness.
2. The coenobites, so denominated from their living together in common. All monks were originally no more than laymen; nor could they well be otherwise, being confined by their own rules to solitary retreats, where there could be no room for the exercise of the clerical functions. Accordingly, St. Jerome tells us the office of monk is not to teach, but to mourn; and St. Anthony himself is reported to have said that "the wilderness is as natural to a monk as water to a fish, and therefore a monk in a city is quite out of his element, like a fish upon dry land." Theodosius actually enacted that all who made profession of the monastic life should be obliged by the civil magistrate to betake themselves to the wilderness, as their proper habitation. Justinian also made laws to the same purpose, forbidding the Eastern monks to appear in cities except to defend Christianity from heretics (as was done e.g. by Anthony to confute Arianism), and to despatch their secular affairs, if they had any, through their apocrisarii or responsales — that is, their proctors or syndics, which every monastic company was allowed for that purpose. The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) expressly distinguishes the monks from the clergy, and reckons them with the laymen. Gratian (A.D. 1150) himself, the noted- Benedictine writer, who is most interested for the moderns, owns it to be plain from ecclesiastical history that, to the time of popes Siricins (A.D. 324398) and Zosimus (died 418) the monks were only sinple monks, and not of the clergy. In some cases, however, the clerical and monastic life were capable of being conjoined — as, first, when a monastery happened to be at so great a distance from its proper church that the monks could not ordinarily resort thither for divine service, which was the case with the monasteries in Egypt and other parts of the East; in this case, some one or more of the monks were ordained for the performance of divine offices among them. Then it also happened that some of the clergy, and even bishops themselves, embraced the monastic life by a voluntary renunciation of property, and enjoyed all things in common. This was, however, as late as the middle of the 4th century; until that time it was generally understood that-not only should monks never enter the priesthood, but also that priests should never turn monastics. This appears clearly from the letters of St. Gregory [see below]. Eusebius of Vercillensis (A.D. 315-370) was the first who brought this way of living among the clergy of Hippo, and thus constituted what may be denominated the monastico-clerical condition.
The Church however, in her early days, recognised only one style of monastics, i.e., the coenobites, and for them alone were certain laws and rules of government specially provided. They were in substance that every one should not be allowed to turn monk at pleasure, because there were certain classes so conditioned that they could not enter that state without damaging the interests of others. Thus, e.g., the civil law forbade any of those officers called curiales to become monks, unless they parted with their estates to others, who might serve their country in their stead. For the same reason servants were not admitted into any monastery without their masters' leave. Justinian, however, afterwards abrogated this law by an edict of his own, which first set servants at liberty from their masters under pretence of betaking themselves to a monastic life. The same precautions were observed in regard to married persons and children; the former were not to embrace the monastic life unless with the mutual consent of both parties. This precaution was afterwards set aside by Justinian, but the Church never approved of this innovation. As to children, the Council of Gangra (about the second half of the 4th century) decreed that if any such, under pretence of religion, forsook their parents, they should be anathematized; but Justinian enervated the force of this law likewise, forbidding parents to hinder their children from embracing the monastic or clerical life. And as children were not to turn monks without the consent of their parents, so neither could parents oblige their children to embrace a monastic life against their own consent — at least not until the fourth Council of Toledo: (A.D. 633), which set aside this precaution, and decreed that whether the devotion of their parents, or their profession, made them monks, both should be equally binding, and there should be no permission to return to secular life again.
The manner of admission to the monastic life was usually by some change of habit or dress, not to signify any religious mystery, but only to express gravity and a contempt of the world. Long hair was always thought an indecency in men, and savoring of secular vanity; and, therefore, they polled every monk at his admission, to distinguish him from seculars; but they never shaved any, for fear they should look too like the priests of Isis. This, therefore, was the ancient tonsure, in opposition to both these extremes. As to their habit and clothing, the rule was the same: they were to be decent and grave, as became their profession. The monks of Tabennesus, in Thebais, seem to have been the only monks, in those early days, who were confined to any particular habit. St. Jerome, who often speaks of the habit of the monks, intimates that it differed from others only in this, that it was a cheaper, coarser, and meaner raiment, expressing their humility and contempt of the world, without any singularity or affectation. That father is very severe against the practice of some who appeared in chains or sackcloth; and Cassian blames others who carried wooden crosses continually about their necks, which was only proper to excite the laughter of the spectators. In short, the Western monks used only a common habit, the philosophic pallium, as many other Christians did. Salvian seems to give an exact description of the habit and tonsure of the monks when, reflecting on the Africans for their treatment of them, he says, "they could scarce ever see a man with short hair, a pale face, and habited in a pallium, without reviling and bestowing some reproachful language on him." We read of no solemn vow or profession required at their admission; but they underwent a three years' probation, during which time they were inured to the exercises of the monastic life. If, after that time was expired, they chose to continue the same exercises, they were then admitted without any further ceremony into the community. This was the method prescribed by Pachomius. No direct promise of celibacy was at first made; nay, there appear to have been married monks.. Nor yet was there any vow of poverty, though, when men renounced the world, they generally sold their estates for charitable uses, or keeping them in their own hands, made a distribution regularly of all the proceeds. The Western monks did not always adhere to this rule, as appears from some imperial laws made to restrain their avarice. But the monks of Egypt were generally just to their pretensions, and would accept of no donations but for the use of the poor.
As the monasteries had no standing revenues, all the monks were obliged to exercise themselves in bodily labor to maintain themselves without being burdensome to others. Monks therefore labored with their own hands at a great variety of occupations, and their industry is often commended. "A laboring monk," said they, "was tempted by one devil, but an idle monk by a legion." The Church would tolerate no idle mendicants. Sozomen tells us that Serapion presided over a monastery of 10,000 monks, near Arsinoe, in Egypt, who all labored with their own hands, by which means they not only maintained themselves, but had enough to relieve the poor. To their bodily exercises they joined others that were spiritual, viz., penitence, fasting, and prayer — all supposed to be more extraordinary in intensity and frequency than could be practiced in the world. The most important of these was perpetual repentance, whence the expression of Jerome that the life of a monk is the life of a mourner. In allusion to this, the isle of Canopus, near Alexandria, formerly a place of great lewdness, was, upon the translation and settlement there of the monks of Tabennesus, called Insule Metanaeae, the Isle of Repentance. Next in importance they regarded fasting. The Egyptian monks kept every day a fast till three in the afternoon, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and the fifty days of Pentecost. Some exercised themselves with very great austerities, fasting two, three, four, or five days together; but this practice was not generally approved. They did not think such excessive abstinence of any use, but rather a disservice to religion. Pachomius's rule, which was said to be given him by an angel, permitted every man to eat, drink, and labor according to his bodily strength. Thus fasting was a discretionary thing, and matter of choice, not compulsion. Their fastings were accompanied with extraordinary and frequent returns of devotion. The monks of Palestine, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the East, had six or seven canonical hours of prayer; besides which they had their constant vigils, or nocturnal meetings. The monks of Egypt met only twice a day for public devotion; but in their private cells, while they were at work, they were always repeating psalms, and other parts of Scripture, and intermixing prayers with their bodily labor. St. Jerome's description of their devotion is very lively: "When they are assembled together," says that father, "psalms are sung and. Scriptures read; then, prayers being ended, they all sit down, and the father begins a discourse to them, which they hear with the profoundest silence and veneration. His words make a deep impression on them; their eyes overflow with tears. and the speaker's commendation is the weeping of his hearers. Yet no one's grief expresses itself in an indecent strain. But when he comes to speak of the kingdom of heaven, of future happiness, and the glory of the world to come, then one may observe each of them, with a gentle sigh, and eyes lifted up to heaven, say within himself, 'O that I had the wings of a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest!' In some places they had the Scriptures read during their meals at table. This custom was first introduced in the monasteries of Cappadocia, to prevent idle discourses and contentions. But in Egypt they had no occasion for this remedy, for they were taught to eat their food in silence. Palladius mentions one instance more of their devotion, which was only occasional; namely, their psalmody at the reception of any brethren, or conducting them with singing of psalms to their habitation.
The laws forbade monks to participate in public affairs, either ecclesiastical or civil; and those who were called to any employment in the Church were obliged to quit their monasteries thereupon. Nor were they permitted to encroach upon the duties or rights and privileges of the secular clergy, unless the clerical and monastic life were united, as when the bishops took monastics for the service of the Church, which did not happen until the monasteries had become schools of learning. Such monastics when removed were by the Greeks styled ἱερομόναχοι, i.e., clergymonks. As the. monks of the ancient Church were under no solemn vow or profession, they were at liberty to betake themselves to a secular life again. Julian himself was once in the monastic habit. The same is observed of Constans, the son of Constantine, who usurped the empire in Britain. The rule of Pachomius, by which the Egyptian monks were governed, has nothing of any vow at their entrance, nor any punishment for such as deserted their station afterwards. In process of time it was thought proper to inflict some punishment on such as returned to a secular life. The civil law excluded deserters from the privilege of ordination. Justinian added another punishment; which was that if they were possessed of any substance, it should be all forfeited to the monastery which they had deserted. The censures of the Church were likewise inflicted on deserting monks in the 5th century. Thus when a monk deserted and married, he was declared incapable ever after of holy orders. After the establishment of monasteries under the rule of St. Basil, the actions of a monk, his words, and even his thoughts, were determined by an inflexible rule and a capricious superior; the slightest offences were corrected by disgrace or confinement, extraordinary fasts or bloody flagellations; and disobedience, murmur, or delay were ranked in the catalogue of the most heinous sins. Whenever monastics were permitted to step beyond the precincts of the monastery, two jealous companions were the mutual guards and spies of each other's actions; and after their return they were condemned to forget, or at least to suppress, whatever they had seen or heard in the world. Strangers who professed the orthodox faith were hospitably entertained in a separate apartment; but their dangerous conversation was restricted to some chosen elders of approved discretion and fidelity. Except in their presence, the monastic slave might not receive the visits of his friends or kindred; and it was deemed highly meritorious if he afflicted a tender sister or an aged parent by the obstinate refusal of a word or look.
By their special addiction to an ascetic life, indicating superior sanctity and virtue, the monastics secured great favor with the multitude, and speedily acquired for themselves such popularity and influence that the clergy could not but find in them either powerful allies or formidable rivals. When they began to form large and regular establishments, it was needful that some members of their body should be ordained, in order to secure the regular performance of divine worship; and at length, not only was it usual for many members of a monastery to be in holy orders, but it came to be regarded as an advantage for the clergy to possess the additional character of monastics. From the 4th century, in the West, at the request of the people or their abbot, the monks very frequently took orders; and in the East at the instance of the bishops, the archimandrites being sometimes elevated to the episcopate, or acting as bishops' deputies at councils, and their monks ranking after priests and deacons, they frequently went to study in the cloister. It was not until the 6th century that the coenobites left the desert for the suburbs of cities and towns, but as early as the close of that century they were known as monastics, having come to be distinguished from the populace, and, endowed with much opulence and many honorable privileges, found themselves in a condition to claim an eminent station among the pillars and supporters of the Christian community. The fame of their piety and sanctity was so great that bishops and presbyters were often chosen out of their order; and the passion for erecting edifices and convents, in which the monks and holy virgins might serve God in the most commodious manner, was at that time carried beyond all bounds. "So much was the world infatuated by the sanctimonious appearance of the recluses that men thought they could not more effectually purchase heaven to themselves than by beggaring their offspring, and giving all they had to erect or endow monasteries; that is, to supply with all the luxuries of life those who were bound to live in abstinence, and to enrich those who had solemnly sworn that they would be forever poor, and who professed to consider riches as the greatest impediment in the road to heaven. Large monasteries, both commodious and magnificent, more resembling the palaces of princes than the rude cells which the primitive monks chose for their abode, were erected and endowed. Legacies and bequests from time to time flowed in upon them. Mistaken piety often contributed to the evil, but oftener superstitious profligacy. Oppression herself commonly judged that to devote her wealth at last, when it could be kept no longer, to a religious house, was full atonement for all the injustice and extortion by which it had been amassed. But what set in a stronger light the pitiable brutishness to which the people were reduced by the reigning superstition, was that men of rank and eminence, who had shown no partiality to anything monastical during their lives, gave express orders, when in the immediate view of death, that their friends should dress them out in monkish vestments, that in these they might die and be buried, thinking that the sanctity of their garb would prove a protection against a condemnatory sentence of the omniscient Judge" (Cramp, Text-book of Popery, page 323). Nevertheless, although many monastics greatly distinguished themselves, and established such a popular interest in monasticism as to cause eminent ecclesiastics to adopt the monastic life, yet it was not the custom to place monks, as such, on an equal footing with the clergy. They, indeed, were not then reckoned as sieculares, but were distinguished by the name of religiosi or regulares (canonici), and they were first regarded as part of the clerical body in the 10th century; but even then a distinction was carefully made between clerici smoculares, i.e., parish priests and all who were charged with the cure of souls, and clerici regulares, i.e., those belonging to monastic orders; and the former vehemently protested against the right of the latter to interfere with their own peculiar duties. In fact, no complete amalgamation of the two bodies ever took place; and all monasteries continued to include a certain number of lay brethren, or conversi, who, without discharging strictly spiritual functions, formed, as in the ancient Church, a middle order between the clergy and the laity. In the 9th century there existed 'also the nonachi scculares, who were members of religious fraternities, living under a certain rule and presidency, but without submitting to the confinement of a cloister. They were the forerunners of the religious fraternities which arose in France, Italy, and Germany, and greatly multiplied and extended during the 15th and 16th centuries. The' members of these fraternities formed a class between the laity and clergy. However, their licentiousness, even in the 6th century, became a proverb; and they are said to have excited the most dreadful tumults and sedition in various places.
The monastic orders, as we have already indicated, were at first under the immediate jurisdiction of the bishops, but they were exempted from them by the Roman pontiff about the end of the 7th century (Boniface IV); and the monks, in turn, devoted themselves wholly to advancing the interests and to maintaining the dignity of the bishop of Rome. "The partiality of the popes for monastic orders," says Cramp, " is easily accounted for. They constitute a peculiar and distinct body, so estranged from society that they can give undivided attention and solicitude to any object that is presented to their notice. That object has uniformly been the aggrandizement of the Church-that is, the See of Rome. Incorporated by pontifical authority, exempted to a degree from episcopal jurisdiction, and endowed with many privileges and favors from which the rest of the faithful are excluded, they are bound in gratitude to make the pope's interest their own. History records that they have ever been ready to come forward in. support of the most glaring enormities of the papal system, and that to their indefatigable diligence and adroit management the triumphant progress of that system was mainly indebted. They formed a sort of local militia, stationed in every country in Europe, always prepared to uphold the cause to which they had attached themselves, by aggression, defence, or imposture, as the case might require" (Text-book of Popery, page 359). The immunity which the monks thus obtained was a fruitful source of licentiousness and disorder, and largely occasioned the vices with which they were afterwards so justly charged. In the 8th century the monastic discipline was extremely relaxed, and all efforts to restore it were ineffectual. Nevertheless, this kind of institution was in the highest esteem; and nothing could equal, the veneration that was paid about the close of the 9th century to such as devoted themselves to the gloom and indolence of a convent. This veneration caused several kings and emperors to call monks to their courts, and to employ them in civil affairs of the greatest moment. -Their reformation was attempted by Louis the Meek, but the effect was of short duration. In the 11th century they were exempted by the popes from the authority established; but this caused such laxity that in the Council of Lateran, in 1215, a decree was passed, by the advice of Innocent III, to prevent any new monastic institutions; and several were entirely suppressed in the 15th and 16th centuries, it appears, from the testimony of the best writers, that the monks were generally lazy, illiterate, profligate, and licentious epicures, whose views in life were confined to opulence, idleness, and pleasure. "Whenever a general council was assembled," says Cramp, "the irregularities or usurpations of the monastic orders commonly occupied a large share of the proceedings. Canon after canon was issued, and still the interposition of ecclesiastical authority was constantly required. An abstract of the decree passed on this subject in the twenty- fifth session of the Council of Trent will place before the reader the then existing condition of that portion of the Roman Catholic Church. It was enacted that care should be taken to procure strict observance of the rules of the respective professions; that no regular should be allowed to possess any private property, but should surrender everything to his superior; that all monasteries, even those of the mendicants (the Capuchins and friars minor Observantines excepted at their own request), should be permitted to hold estates and other wealth; that no monk should be suffered to undertake any office whatever without his superior's consent, nor quit the convent without a written permission; that nunneries should be carefully closed, and egress be absolutely forbidden the nuns, under any pretense whatsoever, without episcopal license, on pain of excommunication- magistrates being enjoined under the same penalty to aid the bishop, if necessary, by employing force, and the latter being urged to their duty by the fear of the judgment of God and the eternal curse; that monastics should confess and receive the eucharist at least once a month; that if any public scandal should arise out of their conduct, they should be judged and punished by the superior, or, in case of his failure, by the bishop; that no renunciation of property or pecuniary engagement should be valid unless made within two months of taking the vows of religious profession; that immediately after the novitiate, the novices should either be dismissed or take the vow, and that if they were dismissed, nothing should be received from them but a reasonable payment for their board, lodging, and clothing during the novitiate; that no females should take the veil without previous examination by the bishop; that whoever compelled females to enter convents against their will, from avaricious or other motives, or, on the other hand, hindered such as were desirous of the monastic life, should be excommunicated; that if any monk or nun pretended that they had taken the vows under the influence of force or fear, or before the age appointed by law, they should not be heard, except within five years after their profession — if they laid aside the habit of their own accord, they should not be permitted to make the complaint, but be compelled to return to the monastery, and be punished as apostates, being in the mean time deprived of all the privileges of their order. Finally, with regard to the general reformation of the corruptions and abuses which existed in convents, the council lamented the great difficulty of applying any effectual remedy, but hoped that the supreme pontiff would piously and prudently provide for the exigencies of the case as far as the times would bear" (Textbook of Popery, page 359). However, the Reformation had a manifest influence in restraining these excesses, and in rendering monastics more circumspect and cautious in their external conduct. SEE MONASTERY and SEE MONASTICISM; also SEE MONKS, EASTERN.