.::St Mark & St George - Coptic Orthodox Church::.

 

COPTIC MONASTICISM

Monasticism began in the Coptic Church towards the end of the third Century, and flourished in the fourth. There were hundreds of monastaries and thousands of caves in the mountains of Egypt. For the monks, monasticism was the life of prayer, contemplation, solitude, worship, and purity of heart. They had nothing in their minds, hearts and feelings except God. They lived the calm and quiet life abiding in the Lord, detaching themselves from everything and everyone, in order to be attached to Him alone. Saint Paul, of the lower Thebaid in Egypt, was the first hermit. In 250 AD upon the death of his parents when he was 16 years old, he inheritred great wealth. He fled to the desert where he lived over 90 years. Each day, a raven would bring him one hald of a loaf of bread for his sustenance.

The most famous Coptic monk was Saint Anthony, who was born in Middle Egypt. He was 18 years of age when he entered a church and heard the words of the Gospel, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell all you have and give to the poor; and come follow Me." (Matthew 19:21). In obedience, he sold his land, entrusted his sister to a community of virgins, and lived in a hut unde the guidance of a recluse. He visited Alexandria in 316 AD to assist the martyrs, and in 352 AD to help Saint Athanasius in his fight against Arianism. Saint Anthony was a great leader of thousands of monks in Egypt in the fourth cenutry, and many of his disciples also came from the West, after hearing of his inspirational life; for this reason he is considered all over the world, until today, as the "father of monasticism."
.::St Anthony - The Great::.

Other famous Coptic monks include Saint Syncletica who founded the first monastic community for women in the world in Alexandria. Her biography and teachings were preserved by Pope Athanasius.

Coptic Monasticism is considered the most profound spiritual revival in the history of the Church. The news of the spiritual life of the monks spread to every part of the world despite the fact that they did not write about themselves, and for this reason, there is no Coptic history of the Coptic monks. Despite this fact however, people came from all over the world in order to hear a word from one of the monks, and to take it as a word of spiritual guidanc and benefit throughout their lives.

Saint Palladius visited many monks and wrote his famous Paradise of the Fathers from which we learn about these holy fathers. They were not preachers, but they were living sermons, and were examples of the true spiritual life. They were the image of God on earth.