The name of two celebrated contemporary Nitrian monks of the fourth century:
Macarius the Alexandrian
Also called ho politikos either in reference to his city birth or polished
manners; died about 405. He was a younger contemporary of Macarius the Egyptian,
but there is no reason for confounding or identifying him with his older
namesake. More than any of the hermits of the time he exemplified the spirit of
emulation characteristic of this stage of monasticism. He would be excelled by
none in his austerities. Palladius asserts
if he ever heard of any one having
performed a work of asceticism, he was all on fire to do the same. Because the
monks of Tabennisi eschewed cooked food in Lent he abstained for seven years.
Once, in expiation of a fault, he lay for six months in a morass, exposed to the
attacks of the African gnats, whose sting can pierce even the hide of a wild
boar. When he returned to his companions he was so much disfigured that he could
be recognized only by his voice. He is credited with the composition of a rule
for monks, though his authorship is now generally denied.
Macarius the Egyptian (or
Macarius the Elder)
One of the most famous of the early Christian solitaries, born about A.D. 300;
died 390. He was a disciple of St. Anthony and founder of a monastic community
in the Scetic desert. Through the influence of St. Anthony he abandoned the
world at the age of thirty, and ten years later was ordained a priest. The fame
of his sanctity drew many followers, and his monastic settlement at his death
numbered thousands. The community, which took up its residence in the Nitrian
and Scetic deserts, was of the semi-eremitical type. The monks were not bound by
any fixed rule; their cells were close together, and they met for Divine worship
only on Saturdays or Sundays. The principle which held them together was one of
mutual helpfulness, and the authority of the elders was recognized not as that
of monastic superiors in the strict sense of the word but rather as that of
guides and models of perfection. In a community whose members were striving to
excel in mortification and renunciation the pre-eminence of Macarius was
generally recognized. Several monasteries in the Libyan desert still bear the
name of Macarius. Fifty HomilieEine Homilie (von griech.„ὁμιλεῖν”, „vertraut miteinander reden”) ist eine Art von Predigt. Während eine Predigt die Großtaten Gottes preist (lat. „praedicare”, „preisen”) und Menschen für den Glauben begeistern will, hat die Homilie lehrhaften Charakter. s have been preserved which bear his name, but
these and an
Epistle to the monks, with other dubious pieces, cannot be
ascribed to him with absolute certainty.
Hist. Lausiaca, xvii; Hist. monachorum, xxviii; a Coptic Life was edited by AMELINEAU in Monuments pour servir a l'histoire de l'Egypte chretienne au IVe, Ve, VIe et VIIe siecles (Paris, 1895), Syriac tr. by BEDJAN in Acta sanctorum et martyrum syriace, V, 1895; BUTLER, The Lausiac History of Palladius, II, 193; ZOCKLER, Askese u. Monchthum (Frankfurt, 1897), 226. For the HomilieEine Homilie (von griech.„ὁμιλεῖν”, „vertraut miteinander reden”) ist eine Art von Predigt. Während eine Predigt die Großtaten Gottes preist (lat. „praedicare”, „preisen”) und Menschen für den Glauben begeistern will, hat die Homilie lehrhaften Charakter. s ascribed to MACARIUS see P.L., XXXIV, 409 sqq.; cf. BARDENHEWER, Patrology, tr. SHAHAN (St. Louis, 1908), 266 sqq.
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