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The History of the Church 46 The Flourishing of Monasteries As the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire ceased, hermits increasingly began to congregate into groups to lead a communal life. The first monastery in Gaul was erected toward the year 240, on the isle of Barbe in Lyons. In the fourth century, Saint Pachomius in Egypt wrote the first monastic rule, while Saint John Cassian introduced this form of religious life to Provence, France, with the creation of the abbey of Saint-Victor in Marseilles. In 530, Saint Benedict established a monastery in Italy for which he drew up a rule of life that gave rise to a number of monastic orders. How this movement thrived and spread can easily be demonstrated : at the beginning of the fifteent century, there were records of some 15,000 abbeys founded in France! Some of them did not last long, while others still stand. Such a movement could not be ignored by religious iconography, which has paid homage to the great founders of monastic orders. Jörg Breu, the Elder (1475–1537) Saint Bernard Praying for the Harvest Church of Zwettle, Austria ...


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