The Rules of St Pachomius
In the name of the Holy Trinity. The ordinance, which the angel of the Lord commanded to Abba Pachomius.
In a place whose name is Tabennesis, in the province of Thebes, there was a man whose name was Pachomius, who was of those that lived a clean life, and there was given to him knowledge and also vision of angels. And this man was a great lover of men and a lover of brethren. And as he was sitting in his cave, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him: “With regard to thyself thou hast become perfect and a superfluous abidance dost thou now live in the cave: and now go forth, and collect together the less perfect young men, and dwell and be with them; and as I give to thee an ordinance, thus teach them.” And he handed him a tablet of iron, upon which was written as follows:
“Suffer each one to eat and to drink, and according to the measure of their eating give them their work. And prohibit neither fasting nor eating; but only as the food for the strong is powerful, and is weak for the weak, give them also the food of their works. And make a dwelling in one enclosed place, and three shall dwell in one house. And their eating shall be in one. And they shall sleep not by lying down, but like a chair of brickwork let them make inclining places for the back, and upon this they shall spread out their garments and they shall sleep sitting. And they shall clothe themselves with a sleeveless linen undergarment and a leather girdle, [From the Greek: And let each one of them have a wooly blanket made of a white goat skin], and without this they shall not eat. And when they go to the sacrifice on the Sabbath of the Christians, they shall loosen their girdles and shall lay aside their skin garments [and enter alone] with their hoods. And ordain for them hoods without shaggy hair, like those of children, and command thereon the stigma-sign of the cross in purple. And they each shall consist of twenty-four associations, and each of the associations thou shalt call according to the Greek letters, from Alpha and Beta and Gamma and Delta, in their order. And whenever in an association a first asks a second, he will say:
‘How is the association of Gamma? and how is the association of Beta? Greet Rho.’ And each shall be known by his order and by his sign. And the gentle ones call Iota, and the perverse call Xi, and thus according to their order and their kind and their arrangement and the life of each association in its character, call them by name. And only those that are spiritual know what the writing says that is on this tablet.
And when a stranger comes from another cloister, where there is not such an order, let him neither eat nor drink with them, and let him not enter their cloister, unless they have met on the public highway. But he that comes to dwell with them, let them not receive him into the association before he has completed three years, but they shall employ him only as a servant; and after his completion of three years, let him enter.—And while they eat they shall cover their heads with their hoods, so that one brother does not see the other chewing. And there shall be no conversation while they eat. And not without and not upon another away from the table and the vessel shall they turn their eyes.—And command, that they shall each day pray twelve times, at evening twelve times, and in the night twelve times, and at the ninth hour [i.e., 3 P.M.] three times. And when the associations eat, then a psalm shall be repeated before the prayer; this command.”
From: The Rules Of Pachomius: Saint Pachomius
By: G.H. Schodde