Volume 3: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Mastery, a convent, or house built for the reception and entertainment of monks, mendicant friars, or nuns, whether it be an abbey, priory, etc.

Monasteries are governed by different rules, according to the different regulations prescribed by their founders. The first regular and perfect monasteries were founded by St. Pachomius, in Egypt: but St. Basil is generally considered as the great father and patriarch of the Eastern monks; since in the fourth century he prescribed rules for the government of the monasteries, to which the Anachorets and Coenobites, and the other ancient fathers of the deserts, submitted. In like manner St. Benedict was styled the patriarch of the Western monks. He appeared in Italy towards the latter end of the fifth century, and published his rule, which was universally received throughout the west. St. Augustin being sent into England by St. Gregory the pope, in the year 596, to convert the English, he, at the same time introduced the monastic state into this kingdom; which made such progress here, 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 solitude and retirement.

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