Saint Pachomios was born of pagan parents in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt. He was conscripted into the Roman army at an early age. While quartered with the other soldiers in the prison in Thebes, Pachomios was astonished at the kindness shown them by the local Christians, who relieved their distress by bringing them food and drink. Upon inquiring who they were, he believed in Christ and vowed that once delivered from the army, he would serve Him all the days of his life. Released from military service, about the year 313, he was baptized, and became a disciple of the hermit Palamon, under whose exacting guidance he increased in virtue and grace, and reached such a height of holiness that "because of the purity of his heart," says his biographer, "he was, as it were, seeing the invisible God as in a mirror." His renown spread far, and so many came to him to be his disciples that he founded nine monasteries in all, filled with many thousands of monks, to whom he gave a rule of life, which became the pattern for all communal monasticism after him. While Saint Anthony the Great is the father of hermits, Saint Pachomios is the founder of the cenobitic life in Egypt; because Pachomios had founded a way of monasticism accessible to so many, Anthony said that he "walks the way of the Apostles." Saint Pachomios fell asleep in the Lord before his contemporaries Anthony and Athanasius the Great, in the year 346. His name in Coptic, Pachom, means "eagle."
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