From the earliest centuries of the church, asceticism and the contemplative life have been profoundly important aspects not just of western Christianity but of western civilization as a whole. For even as monasteries withdrew from the main currents of their societies they provided fertile soil and sanctuary to the liberal arts and sciences as well as those who wanted to spend their lives focused upon God. They became the driving cultural forces of Europe, nurturing education, music, manuscript illumination, art and history, agriculture and animal husbandry - all in addition to spiritual guidance. In this first general history of monasticism in the West since 1900, G R Evans explores the cloistered communities and individuals that have aspired to the ascetic ideal, assessing the huge impact they have made on the wider church and its practices. Including many of the best known names in Christian history - such as Cuthbert, Columba, Hilda of Whitby, Peter Abelard and Thomas Merton - this authoritative survey traces the monastic impulse, in all its rich complexity, from its beginnings in the Egyptian desert up to the present-day ecumenical Taize community.
I.B.Tauris History of Monasticism
The Western Tradition