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STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 269

Double Monasticism in the


Greek East, Fourth through
Eighth Centuries

DANIEL F. STRAMARA JR.

Throughout the history of early Christianity, monasticism played a dominant


role. The form of ascetic life known as double monasticismmen and women
following the same rule under one superior while living separatelyintegrally
functioned in the Greek east. In this article the author studies the subject in its
historical context, providing insights into organization, theological ideology,
masculine and feminine identity, operation, governance, monastic office and
economic structure. The influence of Basil and the other Cappadocians is
highlighted.

Although monasticism has played an indisputably vital role throughout


the Churchs history, one aspect of its lived reality has received minimal
attention: that of the double monastery, a single monastic unit of monks
and nuns following the same rule, under the same superior, living in the
same locality, but in separate quarters.1 Most often this topic is relegated
to a few paragraphs or columns in encyclopediae.2 The dearth of

1. For this basic definition, see E. Jombart, Les monastres doubles, section 3 in
Cohabitation, historique, Dictionnaire de droit canonique 3:97273 (henceforth
DDC); H. J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Transla-
tion, and Commentary (New York: B. Herder Books, 1937), 15354; Philibert
Schmitz, Histoire de lordre de Saint-Benot (Liege: Editions de Maredsous, 1948),
7:4546; and Micheline de Fontette, Les religieuses lage classique du droit canon
(Paris: J. Vrin, 1967), 17 note 20.
2. See G. Cyprian Alston, Monasteries, Double, Catholic Encyclopedia; Jean
Gribomont, Monasteries, Double, NCE; Jombart, Les monastres doubles,
DDC 3:97274; H. Leclercq and J. Pargoire, Monastre double, DACL; E. V.
Severus and S. Hilpisch, Monasterio doppio, Dizionario degli istituti di perfezione;
Aim Solignac, Monachisme, DS 10:1604; and A. Hamilton Thompson, Double
monasteries, in The Monastic Orders, Ch. 20 of vol. 5, Cambridge Medieval History
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), 68082.

Journal of Early Christian Studies 6:2, 269312 1998 The Johns Hopkins University Press
270 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

information concerning this form of monastic life is particularly acute


for Greek double monasteries; Mary Bateson, William Clarke, Stephen
Hilpisch, all devote a few meager pages to the subject in works written at
the beginning of this century.3 Only two authors have written articles
specifically on Greek double monasteries.4 The recent works of Ruth
Albrecht and Susanna Elm merely touch on this subject.5
This lack of scholarly research is all the more glaring when one takes
into account that this type of monastic institution was widespread
throughout the East, particularly in the early church.6 Furthermore,
double monasteries following the Rule of Basil received the approbation
of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787.7 In fact, double monasteries
are attested in the Greek east up until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.8

3. See Mary Bateson, Origin and Early History of Double Monasteries,


Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, n.s. 13 (1899): 14041 and 144; William
Kempe Lowther Clarke, St. Basil the Great: A Study in Monasticism (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1913), 10405, and his The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil
(London: SPCK, 1925), 3739; Stephanus Hilpisch, Die Doppelklster: Entstehung
und Organisation, in Beitrge zur Geschichte des alten Mnchtums und des
Benediktinerordens, vol. 15 (Mnster: Verlag der Aschendorffschen, 1928), 1012,
1516, 1924.
4. See Jules Pargoire, Les monastres doubles chez les byzantins, EO 9 (1906):
2125, and Robert H. Trone, A Constantinopolitan Double Monastery of the
Fourteenth Century: The Philanthropic Saviour, Byzantine Studies 10 (1983): 81
87. Alice-Mary M. Talbot, however, also devoted a page and a half to the subject in
her A Comparison of the Monastic Experience of Byzantine Men and Women,
GOTR 30 (1985): 120, esp. 57.
5. Albrecht devotes two pages to the topic of which only two paragraphs deal with
Greek monasteries; see Ruth Albrecht, Das Leben der hl. Makrina auf dem
Hintergrund der Thekla-Traditionem: Studien zu den Ursprngen des weiblichen
Mnchtums im 4. Jahrhundert in Kleinasien (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,
1986), 13032. For the role of virgins and ascetical women in Asia Minor, see
Susanna Elm, Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1994). Double monasticism is treated cursorily and not as a
focused topic; it is not listed as an entry in the index. Nevertheless, Elms study has
contributed to the investigation of the eastern practice; see especially pages 6875.
6. For this assertion, see Solignac, Monachisme, 1604; Severus and Hilpisch,
Monasterio doppio, 51; Alston, Monasteries, Double, 452; and Hilpisch,
Doppelklster, 12.
7. See C Nic. (787) can. 20, ed. and trans. Norman P. Tanner, Decrees of the
Ecumenical Councils (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), 154.
8. See Pargoire, Les monastres doubles, 25, and Raymond Janin, Monachisme
byzantin au moyen ge: Commende et typica (XeXIVe sicle), REB 22 (1964): 43.
In Lebanon, they endured until the first quarter of the nineteenth century; see
Georges-Joseph Mahfoud, Chapitre IV: Les monastres doubles, in Lorganisation
monastique dans lglise maronite: tude historique (Beirut: Bibliothque de lUniversit
Saint-Esprit, 1967), 289315.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 271

Such a normative and persistent manner of monks and nuns sharing their
monastic life together warrants historical investigation and appreciation.
For brevity sake, this study is limited to the fourth through eighth
centuries.9
Greek double monasticism is discussed here under the following
headings: 1) Definition, 2) Historical Context, 3) Basil and Monasticism,
4) Organization, 5) Theological Ideology, 6) Masculine and Feminine
Identity, 7) Operation, 8) Governance, 9) Monastic Office, 10) Economic
Structure, 11) Subsequent History, and 12) Conclusion. I have attempted
to approach and to present this material in its lived functional experi-
ence: men and women joined together in their search for God via
asceticism.
Once assembled, they needed to clarify the theological basis for their
manner of life. This theological ideology, in turn affected the institu-
tional expression of their shared experience. I am presuming the
following sequence: initial experience, subsequent reflection, institution-
alization, further experience and reflection leading to modification. The
life and writings of Basil of Caesarea as well as those of his brother
Gregory (of Nyssa) and his sister Macrina (the younger) afford an
invaluable window into this process.

DEFINITION

The term double monastery is a confusing appellation. Several modern


scholars have questioned the appropriateness and value of its use.10 I
have retained it for two reasons, one historical and one practical. First,
the term is historical and has canonical import. Second, the term enjoys
the sanction of regular usage among scholars.11
It appears that the first ecclesial use of the term double monastery

9. I plan to write on double monasticism in the Greek east from the eighth through
fifteenth centuries; also on double monasticism in Egypt, Palestine and Syria during
the early church period.
10. See Penelope D. Johnson, Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in
Medieval France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 7; Penny Schine Gold,
The Lady and the Virgin: Image, Attitude, and Experience in Twelfth-Century France
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 10102; and Sharon K. Elkins, Holy
Women of Twelfth-Century England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 1988), xviii.
11. Recent entries for Monasteries, double are supplied by Alice-Mary Talbot in
the 1991 Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium and by Jean Gribomont in the 1992
Encyclopedia of the Early Church.
272 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

(diplon monastrion/duplex monasterium) was by the Seventh Ecu-


menical Council. The earliest civil and legal witness to the term, however,
is found in Justinian Is Novellae 123.36 in 546.12 It is impossible to
know when monastics first applied this term to their own institution.
Canonists and historians stress that a double monastery is not to be
confused with a mixed monastery.13 Regarding Greek monasticism,
Jules Pargoire emphasizes:
It is necessary to distinguish the double monastery from the mixed
monastery. The first simultaneously houses a community of men and a
community of women, both communities placed under the governance of
the same person, but separated one from the other. In the case of the
second, men and women live together.14

The mixed monastery is an ascetical dwelling in which there is cohabita-


tion with common sleeping quarters. This form of life will be addressed
shortly.
Double does not mean two monasteries. Juridically, the two
groups [monks and nuns] form a unity, a moral person, a single whole:
the double monastery.15 Despite its name, a double monastery is a
single monastic unit of men and women. Furthermore, Jean Leclercq
points out that besides double monasteries there were what one might
call twin monasteries, and this was the case when a community of
monks and one of nuns were in close proximity without being dependent
on the other.16 Twin monasteries are neighboring monasteries. While I
believe this term twin is anachronistic for the fourth through eighth

12. See Jombart, Monastres doubles, 973, and Gribomont, Monasteries,


Double, NCE.
13. For the canonists who make this distinction, see Schroeder, Disciplinary
Decrees, 154, and Jombart, Les monastres doubles, DDC 3:97273, read in
connection with Monastre, 5:929. For the historians who emphasize the differ-
ence, see Pargoire, Les monastres doubles, 21; H. Leclercq and J. Pargoire,
Monastre double, 2183; Bateson, Origin and Early History of Double Monaster-
ies, 138; Schmitz, Histoire de lOrdre, vol. 7:45 note 3 and page 48; and V. Laurent,
Une princesse byzantine au clotre, EO 29 (1930): 48 note 5.
14. Pargoire, Monastres doubles, 21.
15. Schmitz, Histoire de lOrdre, 7:46. His clarification holds true of Greek double
monasteries.
16. Jean Leclercq, Feminine Monasticism in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centu-
ries, in The Continuing Quest for God: Monastic Spirituality in Tradition and
Transition, ed. William Skudlarek (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1982), 115. Leclercqs
comments are likewise apropos of monasticism in the early church. A more recent
scholar makes the same differentiation; see Roberta Gilchrist, Gender and Material
Culture: The Archaeology of Religious Women (London: Routledge, 1994), 25.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 273

centuries, it represents a methodological distinction crucial to research


and classification.17
In this article the term mixed monastery is used to refer to a single
monastic establishment in which there is cohabitation, namely male and
female monastics sleeping in the same building, thus giving occasion to
sexual encounters. The demarcation, however, between a mixed
monastery and a double monastery cannot always be made clearly.
The original Basilian double monastery at Annesi was on the family
estate. Did Peter and the males live in one section of the same villa on one
side of a courtyard while the women lived in the opposite wing? Written
records do not specify and no archeological evidence clarifies the matter
further. At some point, however, the two groups were clearly divided into
separate buildings. Logistics and mitigating circumstances might have
necessitated that a group of male and female monastics originally shared
the same edifice. Nevertheless, the distinguishing principle between a
mixed and a double monastery is recognizable: cohabitation. There is no
cohabitation in a double monastery, no one communal sleeping quarters
for both monks and nuns.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT
The roots and causes of the ascetic movement and subsequent cenobitic
form of monasticism have received much analysis. At first, ascetic
women fell primarily into two categories: agapetescelibate male and
female ascetics dwelling together under one roof, at times even sharing
the same bed (while allegedly remaining celibate),18 and virgines
subintroductaewomen who sought refuge and guidance from priests.19
Both practices were widespread before cenobitic monasticism devel-

17. My own research had led me to the same distinction and terminology before
coming across Leclercqs nomenclature. Hilpisch likewise argued that one must not
confuse neighboring monasteries with double monasteries; see Hilpisch, Doppelklster,
1 and 4.
18. See H. Hemmer, Agaptes, DTC; E. Magnin, Agaptes, DDC; Antoine
Guillaumont, Le nom des Agaptes, VChr 23 (1969): 3037; and Gillian Cloke,
This Female Man of God: Women and Spiritual Power in the Patristic Age, AD 350
450 (London: Routledge, 1995), 7781.
19. See Melchiorre di Santa Maria and Jean Gribomont, Agapte (Mulieres et
virgines subintroductae), Dizionario degli istituti di perfezione, and H. Achelis,
Virgines Subintroductae: Ein Beitrag zum VII. Kapitel des I. Korintherbriefes
(Leipzig, 1902).
274 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

oped20 and the bishops soon condemned them.21 As Jean Gribomont


claims, it is within this context that double monasteries arose, especially
with the institutionalization of monasticism.22 Functionally, a household
of agapetes is a mixed monastery and is not to be confused with a
double monastery consisting of strictly regulated separate quarters under
one superior. Basil of Caesarea, the architect of Greek monasticism
(which was double), decried male and female ascetics living together, as
well as priests maintaining virgins in their houses.23 It is against this
backdrop that Basils form of monastic life for men and women stands
out in marked contrast.

BASIL AND MONASTICISM 24

Unfortunately only one Greek monastic rule for double monasticism has
survivedBasils. In order to construct an idea of what such an
institution was like in the Greek east, one must depend heavily upon his
Rule. In fact, Basils Rule was seen as paradigmatic. The Rule, however,
is more exhortatory and exemplary than juridic and legislative. It does
not necessarily provide an accurate picture of lived reality, but rather an
ideal to which one strove. Nevertheless, because the Rule of Basil was
utilized from the fourth through eighth centuries, it does afford one a
glimpse into the operative model which was widely embraced.
Building on the work of previous scholars, Elm has reconstructed the
formative period in Basils ascetic life.25 In the light of this historical
research, insight can be gained into Basils formulation of double
monasticism. After returning from his studies in Athens and pursuing a
career in rhetoric at Caesarea in 355, Basil was persuaded by his sister

20. See Elm, Virgins of God, 2551.


21. For a synopsis of the canonical proscriptions, see Magnin, Agaptes, DDC,
and Francis X. Murphy, Virgines Subintroductae, NCE.
22. Jean Gribomont, Monachisme, DS 10:153940.
23. See Basil of Caesarea, ep. 16971, 188.6, and 126, as well as Elm, Virgins of
God, 147 & 184.
24. In this regard, see Paul Jonathan Fedwick, Appendix A: A Revised Provisional
Chronology of the Life and Works of Basil of Caesarea (330379), in The Church
and the Charisma of Leadership in Basil of Caesarea, ed. Paul Jonathan Fedwick
(Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1979), 13355 (henceforth
Church and Charisma), and especially Fedwicks A Chronology of the Life and
Works of Basil of Caesarea, in Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Ascetic, ed.
Paul Jonathan Fedwick (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1981), 3
19 (henceforth Basil of Caesarea).
25. See Elm, Virgins of God, 6068, 7891 and 1025. I am indebted to her
synthesis and subsequent elucidations.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 275

Macrina to embrace a life of philosophy, i.e., an ascetic regime.26 She


herself had for ten years been devoting her life to virginity and asceticism
at the family estate in Annesi.27 Their brother Naucratius had retired to
a nearby hermitage in 352.28
Macrina probably mentioned the locally renowned Eustathius of
Sebaste to Basil, lauding his asceticism.29 Thus in 356 Basil attempted to
meet Eustathius who was on an ascetic pilgrimage; this occasioned
Basils trip to Syria, Palestine and Egypt where he visited monasteries.30
Basil and Eustathius, however, never encountered each other in these
places. They finally met at Annesi in 358 where they and the rest of the
family enjoyed spiritual conferences.31 The connection between Basil and
Eustathius is significant because the form of monasticism propagated by
Eustathius embraced an aspect comparable to that of double monasti-
cism: male and female ascetics were considered equals and lived
together.32 Eustathius model, however, appears to have been one of
cohabitation more so than one of segregation. Arguably, Basils subse-
quent formulation of double monasticism was influenced by his sojourn

26. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 6, ed. Pierre Maraval, SC 178 (Paris: Editions
du cerf, 1971), 16062.
27. For observations concerning Macrina, see Domenico Devoti, Alle origini del
monachesimo femminile: Tra follia e santit, in La donna nel pensiero cristiano
antico, ed. Umberto Mattioli (Genoa: Marietti, 1992), 193203; Elena Giannarelli,
Macrina e sua madre: Santit e paradosso, SP 20 (1989): 22430; Albrecht, Leben
der hl. Makrina; and Elm, Virgins of God, 78105.
28. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 89, SC 178:16470, and Elm, Virgins of God,
8083 and 91. Elm states that Naucratius was the leader of a band of brothers living
with him in solitude; see Virgins of God, 8384 and 105. Such a conclusion, however,
is unwarranted and seriously in error. The passage in question speaks of a group of
old people living together in poverty and infirmity, see the Greek text v. Macr. 8.24
25, SC 178:168. This is a matter of charitable relief work for the elderly and no more.
The text says nothing of his living with them, either; he supplied them with food. The
Greek likewise does not mean that the group was only old men. Thus Elms further
supposition that Basil became the new leader of this group of brothers is equally
incorrect (pp. 8384). Nothing suggests that this group was monastic or even ascetic.
They were poor people (probably men and women) pooling their resources together,
recipients of Naucratius beneficence.
29. See Maraval, SC 178:52.
30. See Basil of Caesarea, ep. 1, Saint Basile: Lettres, ed. Yves Courtonne (Paris:
Les Belles Lettres, 1957), 1:35, and ep. 223.2, Courtonne 3:1011. For the
connection between Basil and Eustathius, see Jean Gribomont, Eustathe le Philosophe
et les voyages du jeune Basile de Csare, RHE 54 (1959): 11524.
31. See Basil of Caesarea, ep. 223.5, Courtonne 3:14.
32. See Jean Gribomont, Eustathe de Sbaste, DS, 1711, and his Le monachisme
au IVe sicle en Asie Mineure: De Gangres au Messalianisme, SP 2 (1957): 404; S.
Salaville, Eustathe de Sbaste, DTC, 1568; as well as Elm, Virgins of God, 189.
276 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

in Egypt where he encountered the Pachomian system of segregated male


and female monasteries existing side by side, yet both under the
supervision of a male appointed by the major superior.33
But Basil was not the founder of Greek double monasticism.34 After
extensive research concerning virgins in Asia Minor, Elm concludes,
From the beginning, and well into the middle of the fourth century,
ascetic communities of men and women were the rule, not the excep-
tion.35 She notes this in reference to pre-Basilian monasticism of which
Basil was a reformer.36 In fact, the community at Annesi established by
Macrina was composed of both men and women under her spiritual
leadership.37 Gribomont avers that this monastic community had em-
braced the customary system of double monasteries.38 Gregory
recorded the account of two parents who brought their daughter to be
healed at Annesi, As we entered the monastery, we separated, my wife
and I, for I went to the mens quarters where your brother Peter was
Superior, and she went to the womens quarters to be with the holy one
[i.e., Macrina].39 These separate enclosures were obviously in walking
distance from each other. Basil joined the community in 358 after his
peregrination. It was in this lived experience that his ideas took shape
and later became codified. Thus, Verna E. Harrison credits Macrina as

33. See Clarke, Ascetic Works, 37, as well as his St. Basil the Great, 36 and 117.
34. Concerning Basilian monasticism in general, see Paul Allard, Saint Basile (Paris:
Librairie Lecoffre, 1929), 2345; Stanilas Giet, La socit des moines, in his Les
ides et laction sociales de saint Basile (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1941), 183216;
Lon Lbe, Saint Basile: Les rgles monastiques (Maredsous: Editions de Maredsous,
1969), 1130; Yves Courtonne, Un tmoin du IVe sicle oriental: Saint Basile et son
temps daprs sa correspondence (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1973), 42455; Mario
Mazza, Monachesimo basiliano: Modelli spirituali e tendenize economico-sociali
nellimpero del IV secolo, in Basilio di Caesarea: La sua et, la sua opera e il
basilianesimo in Sicilia (Messina: Centro di Studi Umanistici, 1983), 5596; Benot
Gain, La vie monastique, chapter 4 in his Lglise de Cappadoce au IVe sicle
daprs la correspondence de Basile de Csare (330379) (Rome: Pontificium
Institutum Orientale, 1985), 12361; and Elm, Virgins of God, 6077. Also see Jules
Pargoire, Basile de Csare (saint) et Basiliens, DACL.
35. Elm, Virgins of God, 206.
36. See Elm, Virgins of God, 20723.
37. For comments on Macrinas community, see Elm, Virgins of God, 92105 and
page 91 note 47.
38. Jean Gribomont, Le pangyrique de la virginit, oeuvre de jeunesse de
Grgoire de Nysse, Revue dasctique et de mystique 43 (1967): 251. Also see his
Le monachisme au IVe sicle en Asie Mineure: De Gangres au Messalianisme, SP 2
(1957): 412.
39. Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 37, FC 58:189.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 277

the true founder of what is sometimes called Basilian monasticism.40


Elm concurs, as do I.41
Other witnesses to double monasticism in Asia Minor exist.42 Some-
time after 360, Gregory of Nazianzus wrote to the community of monks
and virgins living at Sannabodae in Cappadocia.43 This letter was
occasioned by the death of their superior, the blessed Leucadios. The
original date and circumstances of this double monasterys foundation
are unknown. Nevertheless, it was contemporaneous with Macrinas
community. Gregory had previously spent time with Basil in the
community at Annesi.44 Some ten years later, the same Gregory fled to
Seleucia to the convent of the holy virgin Thecla,45 and remained there
for four years.46
We know that this community was, in fact, a double monastery. On
her travels, Egeria recorded that at the church of Thecla there were
(presumably in May 384)47 countless monastic cells for men and
women, and that these were governed by the holy deaconess
Marthana.48 According to Egeria, these cells, segregated by gender and
scattered over the hillside, formed a single monastery.49 Thus, while
bishop, Gregory of Nazianzus made a four-year retreat in a double
monastic enclave.
This fact is important because in the late 380s Gregory of Nazianzus
condemned the practices of agapetes.50 The cohabitation of celibate

40. Verna E. F. Harrison, Male and Female in Cappadocian Theology, JThS 41


(1990): 445.
41. See Elm, Virgins of God, 104.
42. For the broader context, see Gribomont, Le monachisme au IVe sicle en Asie
Mineure, 400415, as well as his Le monachisme au sein de lglise en syrie et en
cappadoce, StudMon 7 (1965): 724.
43. See Gregory of Nazianzus, ep. 238, ed. Paul Gallay, Saint Grgoire de
Nazianze: Lettres, 2 vols. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1964 & 1967), 2:12829.
44. See Gregory of Nazianzus, ep. 46, Gallay 1:38.
45. Gregory of Nazianzus, De vita sua 547, ed. Christoph Jungck, De vita sua
(Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1974), 80; trans. Denis Molaise Meehan, Concerning His
Own Life in FC 75 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987),
92.
46. See Gallay, Lettres 1:xiii, and Elm, Virgins of God, 18687.
47. For the dating, see SC 296:225.
48. Egeria, Per. Aeth. 23.3, ed. Pierre Maraval SC 296 (Paris: Editions du Cerf,
1982), 226/28, trans. George E. Gingras, Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage in ACW 38
(New York: Newman Press, 1970), 87. Also see p. 213 n. 255.
49. See Egeria, Per. Ather. 23.4, SC 296:228.
50. See Gregory of Nazianzus, Epigrammata 1020, PG 38.8693; Guillaumont,
Le nom des Agaptes, and Elm, Virgins of God, 185.
278 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

males and females in a secular house was to be censured, whereas the


gathering together of monks and nuns into separate quarters within a
double monastery received approval. Separation and supervision are the
key elements here. A cenobitic form of ascetic life had arisen in Asia
Minor and this was to be preferred to virgins living out their vows in the
world with devout men.
The community in Seleucia was not, to be sure, the only indigenous
double monastery. In his Lausiac History Palladius recorded that
Sisinnius, a Cappadocian by birth, travelled to Palestine and lived there
for ten years embracing the ascetic life before returning in the late 380s
or early 390s to his native land where he founded and governed a
community of men and women after having been ordained a priest.51
Thus one may conclude that expressions of double monasticism were
common throughout Cappadocia. In fact, Gribomont asserts, The
monasteries of the Pontus were double, comprised of ascetics of both
sexes.52 Such a system was normative in north and east Asia Minor.53
Double monasticism was espoused not only by members of the
orthodox Nicene party, it was also present among Christians who were
influenced by Arianism, and might have been equally popular among
them.54 For example, before becoming the Arian archbishop of
Constantinople ca. 344, Macedonius had founded monasteries of men
and women (monaxikn sunoikin ndrn te ka gunaikn) which were
supervised by the deacon Marathonius.55 Socrates reports that Mara-
thonius himself when bishop of Nicomedia proved very active in
founding monasteries both of men and women (ndrn te ka gunaikn
monastria).56 The Greek text, however, is not as specific as Elm leads

51. Palladius, h. Laus. 49, Cuthbert Butler, Lausiac History of Palladius (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904), 2:14344. For the dating see Elm, Virgins
of God, 186. While this monastery could have been mixed, this seems unlikely since
Palladius lauded Pachomian monasticism for its separation of men and women, a
recurrent theme in Egyptian and Palestinian asceticism.
52. Jean Gribomont, Histoire du texte des asctiques de s. Basile (Louvain:
Bibliothque du Muson, 1953), 54. Also see page 222.
53. Pontus is the region of North Asia Minor which during this period was divided
into three provinces: Diospontis (capital Amasea), Pontus Polemoniacus (capital
Neocaesarea), and Armenia Minor (capital Sebaste); see M. Forlin Patrucco, Pontus,
Encyclopedia of the Early Church.
54. See Elm, Virgins of God, 11112.
55. See Sozomen, h.e. 4.20.2, ed. Joseph Bidez, GCS 50 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag,
1960), 170, and Elm, Virgins of God, 111.
56. Socrates, h.e. 2.38, ed. Gnther Christian Hansen, GCS (Berlin: Akademie
Verlag, 1995), 164; trans. A. C. Zenos, Ecclesiastical History in NPNF 2.2 (Grand
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 66.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 279

one to believe.57 It is not clear whether these are cases of several


monasteries for men as well as several ones for women, or if these
monasteries were in truth double, each comprised of both men and
women. Furthermore, how segregated were the two sexes? were these
actually mixed monasteries? Eustathius of Sebaste was instrumental in
the lives of both Macedonius and Marathonius,58 so these monasteries
very well could have been mixed, and not like segregated Basilian double
monasteries. Nevertheless, given the widespread prevalence of double
ascetic institutions in Asia Minor, the probability is that some of these
communities were indeed mixed monasteries, not separate sex-segre-
gated ones.
This being the case, nothing about the ascetic community of men and
women at Annesi is unusual. Basil returned there quite often to make
retreats in 35859 and 36062. Then, after experiencing a falling out
with the bishop who ordained him, Basil retired to Annesi in 36365.59
Now that he was a priest, the community at Annesi turned to him for
formal direction. Basils answers to the questions posed by the monks
and nuns eventually became the Small Asceticon, the first version of his
monastic directives containing some of the Long as well as the Short
Rules.60 This was compiled and composed over a period of time: 365 to
369. During the next seven years, Basil revised and expanded these
rules into the Great Asceticon, comprising the full 55 Long Rules and
the 313 Short Rules: the standard Rule of Basil.61
From these monastic directives, Hilpisch concludes, For Basil, the
living together of monks and nuns is something natural and obvious.
While he treats other topics such as the cenobitic life or the nature of
eremiticism as problems to be dealt with, he sets forth the dwelling
together of male and female ascetics as universally acknowledged and
legitimate.62 Hilpischs conclusion makes sense given Basils acquain-
tance with double monasticism in Egypt, his lived experience at Annesi,

57. While Elm nowhere calls these communities double monasteries she implies
as much when she groups those founded by Marathonius with those under the
auspice of Basil of Ancyra; see page 133 and compare it with 131 and 14748.
58. See Elm, Virgins of God, 112 and 125.
59. See Fedwick, A Chronology of the Life and Works of Basil, 8, and Lbe,
Saint Basile: Les rgles monastiques, 1516.
60. These will be designated as LR and SR instead of by their Latin abbreviations
(RF = regulae fusius tractatae and RB = Regulae brevius tractatae) since RB can easily
be confused with either the Rule of Basil or the Rule of Benedict.
61. See Fedwick, Church and Charisma, 12 note 62.
62. Hilpisch, Doppelklster, 10.
280 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

and knowledge of other Cappadocian double monasteries, including his


own in Caesarea which he oversaw as bishop.63
Nevertheless, Margaret Murphy rejects the conclusion that Basils
Rules were meant for double monasteries; she proposes, rather, that the
Rules simply regulated contact with separate neighboring convents.64 Yet
her view is countermanded by LR 15 which explicitly deals with boys
and girls who are taken into the monastery (singular) and who are later
given the option of making vows to the monastery. Likewise, LR 33
speaks of a single superior over a single monastery in which are housed
the sick male and female relatives of the vowed ascetics.
Without question, the so-called Rule of Basil provides for double
monasticism, the form of ascetic communal life normative for him and
his contemporaries. These Rules, as well as some of his various ascetic
texts, along with other scattered witnesses, afford a window into how
Greek double monasteries functioned in the early church.

ORGANIZATION

So far I have been employing the anachronistic term double monas-


tery, an expression not attested until a century and a half after the time
of Basils Rule. By what term did late fourth century Cappadocians
denote their communities? In his Rules, both Long and Short, Basil
regularly employed the term adelphote\s.65 While the word literally means
brotherhood, this does not mean that it cannot denote a double
monastery.66 Lampe notes that the word refers to the community of the
baptized, as well as to religious communities or even communities
of men and women living together; however, he only cites one such
reference, which is inferential: Gregory of Nyssas De virginitate 23.67
This particular passage will be discussed shortly.
Several clear witnesses to the use of the term adelphote\s can be

63. For a passing reference to this monasterys containing nuns, see Gaudentius of
Brescia, serm. 17 (340), PL 20:965A. For the Pachomian influence, see Clarke, St.
Basil the Great, 117.
64. See Margaret Gertrude Murphy, St. Basil and Monasticism (Washington, DC:
Catholic University of America, 1930), 33 and 95.
65. Numerous examples will be supplied in this article; also see Elm, Virgins of
God, 14 and 69, as well as Gain, Lglise de Cappadoce au IVe sicle, 132 note 37.
Basil also used the term to designate the monastic communities founded by Eustathius
of Sebaste; see Basil of Caesarea, ep. 223.5, Courtonne 3:14.
66. See my article, AdelfthwTwo Frequently Overlooked Meanings, VChr
51 (1997): 31620.
67. G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961).
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 281

catalogued. Gregory of Nazianzus employed it to refer to a single


community of monks and nuns,68 as did Palladius.69 Both were in
Cappadocia. Gregory of Nyssa utilized the term to denote his sisters
monastic community at Annesi. He recounted:
As I was arriving at the place itself (and the news of my presence had
already been announced to the community [delfthti]), an entire
contingent of men poured forth from the monastic enclosure [r4 t0w 10 31onaTD c.5 164.e4a8ima t0w07n 0 Tndr0w0
282 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

agape\tesvowed male and female celibates living in the world and


dwelling together in one housenot only was monasticism itself being
mocked, but also double monasticism in particular was subject to
reproach. The bishops of Asia Minor considered the cohabitation of
celibate men and women to be a widespread problem.75
Thus, when Basil used the term adelphote\s in his Rules, it can connote,
if not in fact denote, a double monastery. One particular passage is
explicit;76 it refers to the admittance of children into the monastery.
Having reached maturity, these young men and women were eventually
allowed to make monastic profession to one and the same adelphote\s
(LR 15). This arrangement parallels that found in Macrinas double
monastery.
The term adelphote\s well describes the double monastery because it
denotes the singularity and unity of the community, which is a body of
brothers (adelphoi) and sisters (adelphai). The term is not gender
exclusive; in fact, Basil employed adelphote\s at least once to designate a
sisterhood.77 The term appears in a section where Basil specifically treats
issues concerning female ascetics belonging to an adelphote\s separate
from the mens, enjoining them to obey the directives of their superioress.78
Given the inclusivity of the term adelphote\s and the fact that Basils
Rules are for double monasteries, translating this term as brotherhood or
fraternity is unfortunate; community is more correct. Basils model for
this was his sisters community.
The burgeoning adelphote\s at Annesi was originally composed of
Macrina, her mother Emmelia, her brother Peter, and their manumitted
male and female servants.79 Naucratius had retired to a nearby secluded
spot, but was in constant contact with the community, probably

75. The Synod of Ancyra in 314 ruled against this practice in canon 19 as did the
Council of Nicaea I (325) in canon 3. Sometime between 330 and 358, Basil of
Ancyra decried such cohabitation in his virg. 43, PG 30:753B756C.
76. Other passages, both explicit and implicit, will arise in the course of thematic
presentations.
77. See Basil of Caesarea, ascet. 2.2, PG 31:888C. While the authenticity of ascet.
2 is questioned by some scholars, yet upheld by others, it nevertheless bears witness
to Basilian monasticism; see Fedwick, Chronology of Basil, 19.
78. I employ the monastic term superioress to highlight the Greek: proesto\sa, the
feminine form of proesto\s, superior. An abbess is a major superior over a large
juridical enclave of monastics, whether female or male. Not every superioress was an
abbess. The rapport between the male and female superiors as well as other elders in
the community will be examined under the section Governance.
79. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 7, SC 178:164, and Elm, Virgins of God, 84
85 and 9798.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 283

supplying them with game from his hunting and fishing expeditions on
the family estate.80 As early as 357 other women joined Macrinas
community.81 The ascetic household now became a broader ascetic
community. Basil first joined them at this stage but then soon left. When
famine struck Cappadocia in 368 and 369, Macrina and Peter worked
side by side to take care of the needy who sought refuge at their eremitic
abode.82 Macrina took in those who were orphaned and some of these
permanently joined the community.83 This group must have included
orphaned boys as well, even though they are not mentioned.84 Thus, by
368 the community at Annesi was no longer a familial ascetic retreat, but
a fully functioning double monastery capable of absorbing new female
and male members as well as of tending girls and boys.
During the period from 365 onward, Basil was back in Caesarea
carrying out his priestly duties. He was raised to the episcopate in the fall
of 370.85 As archbishop of Caesarea, Basil became responsible for the
supervision of monasteries in all of Cappadocia. Between 370 and 376
he experienced the need to give formal articulation to his monastic
directives, expanding them into the final versionthe Long and Short
Rules. These form the basis for reconstructing what double monasteries
were like in the Greek east during the last quarter of the fourth century,
extending into the fifth. Unfortunately, no typika or Foundation Charters
for other double monasteries exist by which one may gain a broader and
more complete perspective.
Like the double monastery at Annesi, a majority of Basilian monaster-
ies were composed of family members who embraced the ascetic life.86
Cappadocian women played a prominent role in such conversions.87

80. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 89, SC 178:16468.


81. See Elm, Virgins of God, 92.
82. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 12, SC 178:184.
83. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 26.2934, SC 178:232.
84. Gregory of Nyssa fails to mention orphaned boys in his v. Macr.; however, his
reference to the orphaned girls was incidental. Basils LR 15 presumes the reception of
orphaned children, boys and girls. The question posed is, At what age should they be
allowed to consecrate their lives to God?
85. See Fedwick, Chronology of Basil, 11.
86. For the familial aspect of asceticism, see David Armand de Mendieta, La
virginit chez Eusbe dEmse et lascticisme familial dans la premire moiti du IVe
sicle, RHE 50 (1955): 777820, especially 800805.
87. See Marcella Forlin Patrucco, Aspetti di vita familiare nel IV secolo negli
scritti dei padri cappadoci, in Etica sessuale e matrimonio nel cristianesmo delle
origini, ed. Raniero Cantalamessa (Milan: Universit Cattolica del Sacro Cuore,
1976), 15879.
284 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

Consequently, LR 12 provides for the admittance of married couples


who henceforth practiced celibacy. Because such cases were common in
monastic history even in the late eighth century,88 Basils handling of the
matter warrants close examination.
Those who are married and who apply for entrance to a life such as this
should be asked whether they are doing this by mutual consent [ka tow n
suzug& d gmou toiot b proserxomnouw nakrnesyai de, efi k
sumf nou toto poiosi], according to the precept of the Apostle (for, he
says, he hath not power of his own body), and if such be the case, the
applicant should be received in the presence of several witnesses. Nothing
should be preferred to obedience to God. If the partner [t teron mrow]
should disagree and offer resistance, being less concerned for Gods good
pleasure, let the words of the Apostle be recalled to mind: But God hath
called us in peace. And let the Lords precept be fulfilled: If any man
(tiw = anyone) come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife
and children, and so on (ka t loip), he cannot be my disciple; for
nothing should take precedence over obedience to God. We know of many
cases, moreover, where the determination to lead a life of chastity prevailed
with the aid of earnest prayer and unremitting penance; the Lord inducing
those who had been quite obstinate, even, in many instances, by visiting
them with bodily illness to give their consent to the right decision.89

As is evident from Wagners translation, mutuality was a concern for


Basil. Since the Greek text is inclusive and does not specify which partner
is meant, Clarkes translation is incorrect (Married men who want to be
admitted to such a life as ours must be questioned whether their action
is approved by their wives . . .).90 The Greek literally says, Those in the
bond of marriage. Basils sensitivity to inclusivity and mutuality is
further substantiated by his excerpt from I Corinthians 7.4. The full text
reads, The wifes body does not belong to her alone but also to her
husband. In the same way, the husbands body does not belong to him
alone but also to his wife (NIV). Basil skillfully quoted this text in an
abbreviated and inclusive manner while remaining faithful to the original
Greek wording. Likewise, the term used for the disagreeing partner is
gender inclusive. In addition, Basil adroitly if partially quoted and
amplified Luke 14.26. By substituting his brothers and sistersyes,
even his own life with ka t loip and so on, or and the rest,
Basil opened the door for the listener to apply this evangelical injunction
in a more inclusive sense, i.e., hating ones husband. In short, the

88. See C Nic. (787) can. 20.


89. LR 12, PG 31:948C949A; FC 9:26263.
90. Clarke, Ascetic Works, 173.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 285

Gospel passage applies to the wife as well as to the husband. Thus, I


agree with Julian Garnier who interprets this passage to mean that either
partners admittance was conditional provided the eventual consent of
the other was forthcoming,91 and disagree with Clarke who believes that
the husband was permitted to join even if the wife dissented.92
The inclusivity of Basilian monasticism is further attested in other
ways. In LR 32 there is an implicit reference to the presence of women in
the Basilian adelphote\s. Sick parents and relatives (ofl kat srka gonew
delfo, also referred to as ofikeoi) may be admitted into the
community on the basis that Whoever does the will of my Father who
is in heaven, is my brother and sister and mother. The gender inclusivity
of the Greek terms and the verse quoted in support of admittance, points
to the reality of the double monastic system.93 Furthermore, contextually,
this Rule is followed by one which explicitly deals with the relationship
between monks and nuns. And in SR 112, regarding the reception of a
postulant, the Greek employs the masculine participle. It is thus inclusive
and means someone rather than man (as Clarke translates).94 The
newcomer is to be received with the knowledge of all the members
(pntvn tn delfn), i.e., all the brothers and sisters.
In fact, Basil frequently utilized gender neutral or inclusive terms in his
Rule. For example, he regularly used tiw, someone, which is the same for
both the masculine and feminine; and eighteen times he employed the
word prsvpon (proso\pon) to mean a human person.95 Half of the time
Basil used it to refer explicitly to either a monk or a nun.96 Basils brother,

91. See Julianus Garnier, Basilii Caesareae Cappadociae: Opera Omnia (Paris:
Gaume Fratres, 1839), vol. 2.1, 49495 note f.
92. See Clarke, Ascetic Works, 173 note 7. Clarke mentions the synod of Gangra,
but nothing in its decrees directly applies here. Canon 14 is only against a wife who
leaves her husband because she despises marriage; it does not preclude a spouses
entering a monastery with mutual consent; see NPNF 2.14:98 with Hefeles comment.
93. See also SR 286, PG 31:1284B where there is a question of a [non-gender
specific] resident (tn znta) of the adelphote\s being admitted to a hospital.
94. See SR 112, PG 31:1157B; Clarke 271. Clarke might have been using man
in an inclusive sense but given the nature of the Rules he should have translated more
precisely.
95. See Basil of Caesarea, reg. fus. 2.3, PG 31:913C; 5.3, PG 31:924C; twice in
33.1, PG 31:997BC; 45.2, PG 31:1033A; reg. br. 82, PG 31:1141B; 113, PG
31:1157B, twice in 208, PG 31:1221AB; once in 210, PG 31:1224A; twice in 220,
PG 31:1228C; twice in 245, PG 31:1245C; 276, PG 31:1276B; 282, PG 31:1280C;
and 307, PG 31:1301B; as well as ascet. 2.2, PG 31:885C.
96. See Basil of Caesarea, reg. fus. twice in 33.1, PG 31:997BC; reg. br. 82, PG
31:1141B, twice in 208, PG 31:1221AB, once in 210, PG 31:1224A, and twice in
220, PG 31:1228C; as well as ascet. 2.2, PG 31:885C. Only reg. br. 208, PG
286 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

Gregory of Nyssa, commonly utilized prsvpon to denote a human


being.97 Arguably, Basil saw personhood as the basic denominator
common to monks and nuns; gender specification was something added
to the image of God. This perspective was typically Cappadocian.98
Finally, the inclusivity of Basilian monasticism is attested by the
presence of children. LR 15 provides for the admittance of both boys and
girls, especially those who had been orphaned. Those children who were
accepted and who were not orphans most probably belonged to the
parents who had joined the double monastery (LR 12). After education
and discernment, they could make profession.
For Basil of Caesarea, the adelphote\s is a monastic family of men,
women and children who consecrated their lives to God, vowing to
follow the Gospel precepts. Thus, the Basilian double monastery truly
formed, in both a literal and a figurative sense, one monastic family of
men and women.

THEOLOGICAL IDEOLOGY

Christian asceticism was most often an attempt to conform ones life to


the Gospel. Regarding double monasticism, it is difficult to assess
whether, or to what extent, the Scriptures gave rise to such a practice, or
if they were invoked after experiencing life in common. The process was
probably spiral in nature, as noted above: initial experience causing
reflection, giving birth to an institution, leading to a need for justification
and further modification based upon subsequent experience and reflection.
The Introduction to Ascetic Life which prefaced the compendium of
Basils ascetical works and Rules, attests to this.99 Basil, or one of his
disciples, justified his form of monasticism on the following basis:
Indeed, women as well as men followed after the Lord during His life
on earth and both sexes ministered to our Saviour.100 Basilian double
monasticism saw itself as emulating and reflecting the community of men

31:1221AB, is not explicit, though the context and a quote referring to women
speaking in church strongly implies that proso\pon here as well embraces both sexes.
97. See my dissertation Unmasking the Meaning of Prsvpon: Prosopon as
Person in the Works of Gregory of Nyssa, Ph.D. diss., Saint Louis University, 1996.
98. See Harrison, Male and Female, 44171, as well as my dissertation, chapter
3.3.2, pp. 16061.
99. Some scholars question the authenticity of this work; see Fedwick, Chronol-
ogy of Basil, 19. Nevertheless, it does reflect Basils attitude; see Clarke, Ascetic
Works, 9.
100. See Basil of Caesarea, inst. ascet. 3, PG 31:625A.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 287

and women who were gathered around the Lord himself. Understand-
ably, the apostolic community of men and women in Acts chapters two
through four is also seen as paradigmatic for the adelphote\s. It serves as
the justification for a cenobitic way of life as opposed to an eremitical
one.101 The Rules of Basil are permeated by citations from Acts chapters
two and four.102
But there is one particular Scriptural passage which inspired early
double monasteries: In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female
(Gal 3.28). This verse is cited by Palladius regarding the adelphote\s of
men and women in Cappadocia and their mastering of sexual im-
pulses,103 and by Basil of Ancyra in his treatise for female ascetics. Not
only has the virgin embraced the angelic life by means of her asceticism
and thus transcended gender, but she, as well as her male counterpart,
has been transported into Christ in whom there is neither male nor
female.104 Accordingly, they may associate with each other: virgins with
monks or priests.105 The bishop of Ancyra, however, castigates agape\tes.106
While Basil of Caesarea nowhere in his Rules cites Galatians 3.28, he
does so in his Moralia.107 Here he employs it referring to the transforma-
tion wrought by baptism.108 Basil understood monasticism as a deepen-
ing of ones baptismal vows.109 The transformation of the masculine and
the feminine in Christ is, however, attested in his Rules. This will be
examined below.
Gregory of Nyssas De virginitate, written at Basils request to
monastics who followed his Rules, bears witness to the Basilian mindset.110
Basils brother reasoned that spiritual marriage to Christ through
asceticism is common to men and women alike, for as the apostle says:
There is neither male nor female, and Christ is all things for all human
beings.111 Thus, Gal 3.28 functioned as the theological ideology for the

101. See LR 7.4, PG 31:933C.


102. Acts 2.44 is cited in LR 7 and 35; Acts 4.32 in LR 7, 32, and 35, as well as
in SR 85 and 183; and Acts 4.35 in LR 19 and 34, as well as in SR 93, 131, 135, 148
and 252.
103. Palladius, h. Laus. 49.2, Butler, Lausiac History of Palladius, 2:144.
104. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 51, PG 30:772CD.
105. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 5253, PG 30:772D776C.
106. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 43, PG 30:753B756C.
107. For the function of Galatians 3.28 in Basils theology, see Harrison, Male
and Female, 451.
108. See Basil of Caesarea, moral. 20, PG 31:756D & 757B.
109. See Fedwick, Church and Charisma, 15 and 16465.
110. See SC 119:31 and FC 58:3.
111. Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 20.4, SC 119:502; FC 58:64.
288 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

equality of men and women pursuing the same goals in Basils double
monasteries.
Given the above testimonies, one may safely propose that this
statement (In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female) formed a
theological foundation upon which double monasticism arose. In fact,
Gribomont makes the same claim, albeit more resolutely: The enthusi-
asm that accompanied the origins of monasticism tended to promote the
condition of women in accordance with Gal 3.28, which suppressed the
inequality of the sexes; double monasteries took rise in this perspec-
tive.112 The above historical data substantiates Gribomonts conclusion.
Furthermore, recognizing Eustathius of Sebastes agenda regarding the
equality of male and female ascetics, one may infer that this ascetic
principleneither male nor female in Christpermeated the monastic
spirit throughout Asia Minor in the fourth century.
Likewise, Matt 12.50 (Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother and sister and mother) appears to have been another
biblical justification operating as a basis for Basilian double monasticism
since it is quoted four times in the Rules.113 It also appears once in
Gregory of Nyssas treatise On Virginity written for Basils monastics.114
Male and female ascetics were seen as brothers and sisters in the Lord,
members of one spiritual family.
But what biblical verses justify their dwelling together? The reasoning
can be divined from Basils response to the question whether there should
be more than one adelphote\s in a single parish or locality. He speaks of
the pooling of resources and the sharing of spiritual gifts; there should be
only one monastery. Basil then argues:
The maintenance of separate establishments would surely constitute
manifest disobedience to the precept of the Apostle: each one not
considering the things that are his own but those that are other mens. I
think, indeed, that it is impossible for this injunction to be observed where
there is separation, inasmuch as each section is privately occupied with the
care of its own members and is without solicitude for the others, a state of
affairs which is, as I said, clearly opposed to the apostolic precept. And
since the saints mentioned in the Acts frequently testify to its observance,
now by the words: And the multitude of believers had but one heart and
one soul, and again: All they that believed were together and had all
things common, there very evidently was no dwelling apart for any of

112. Gribomont, Monasteries, Double, NCE.


113. See LR 32.1 & 34.2, PG 31.996A & 1001B; as well as SR 155 & 188, PG
31.1184B & 1208CD.
114. See Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 14.3, SC 119:438/40.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 289

them nor did each individual lead an independent life, but all were governed
under one and the same supervision, even though their full number was five
thousand.115

The Scriptural context makes it clear that Basil had in mind men and
women devoted to the Lord, because the same section in Acts from
which he quoted specifies that More and more men and women
believed in the Lord and were added to their number.116 The original
three thousand plus of Acts 2.41 grew to five thousand (Acts 4.4) which
was further augmented in Acts 5.14, the above-quoted verse. According
to Basil, having totally separate communities for men and for women
within one locality would be counterproductive both economically and
spiritually, and indeed a denial of what he understood to be the apostolic
pattern of Christian community.117 For the renowned bishop of Caesarea,
double monasticism was the concrete living manifestation of the biblical
precepts and the continuation of the apostolic way of life.

MASCULINE AND FEMININE IDENTITY

For Basil, the transcendence of gender barriers through Christ finds


scriptural testimony in I Thes 2.7 when Paul wrote, We became gentle
in your midst, as when a nurse cherishes her own children; so being
affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart to you,
not the gospel of God only, but also our very life. Basil enjoined this
verse as a model for the superiors in the monastery. The word translated
as nurse refers to a nursing mother.118 This precept was applicable to
every superior, whether a woman or a man. Basil quoted it five times in
his Rule.119 Moreover, when asked with what attitude ought the
monastic to obey the elders, Basil responded, With the same disposition
as the child consumed by hunger obeys the nurse who calls him to
eat.120 Rufinus in his Latin translation brought out the feminine imagery
by specifying that this feeding is from the breast.121 Demonstrably, Basil

115. LR 35.3, PG 31.1008AB; FC 9:304.


116. Acts 5.14 NIV.
117. As Hilpisch states, Basil saw something necessary and legitimate in the
double monastery system, Doppelklster, 19.
118. See trofw, LSJ, and the JB and NIV translations of this verse.
119. See LR 25.2 (twice), PG 31:985A & C, as well as SR 98, 184 & 186, PG
31.1149D1152A, 1205B & 1208A.
120. SR 166, PG 31:1192B; Clarke 290.
121. See Rufinus, reg. Bas. 84, PL 103:522D.
290 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

was exhorting at least some of his male ascetics to appropriate feminine


qualities.
In several instances Gregory of Nyssa spelled out this spiritual
maternity when he spoke of the monks giving birth to the virtues. He
noted, It is possible for everyone to become a mother in reality in this
respect, quoting Matt 12.50 as proof.122 As Harrison remarks, Many
of what became monastic virtues were identified as feminine in Graeco-
Roman culture, e.g., chastity, silence, humility, receptivity, inwardness,
obedience and enclosure.123 Furthermore, according to Gregory, since
the Incarnation is to repeat itself spiritually in each soul, the Virgin Mary
is the ascetics model.124 Gregory likewise explained to Basils monastics
that virtue is the integration of opposites which brings forth true
character.125 Finally, Gregory cited the Apostle as a man who experienced
spiritual pangs and gave birth to others.126 Men enjoining other men to
foster feminine qualities was not without major precedent; it can be
traced back through Philo to Plato.127
While Basils monks were exhorted to appropriate positive feminine
attributes, the nuns concomitantly were encouraged to become virile.128
This was especially true of the Superioress. In his Rules, Basil stipulated
that the monastic Superior (whether male or female) was to act as both
nursing mother and loving father towards the monastics (LR 25.2). The
Superioress served as model for those in her charge. Likewise, the sister

122. See Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 14.3, SC 119:438/40.


123. Verna E. F. Harrison, A Gender Reversal in Gregory of Nyssas First Homily
on the Song of Songs, SP 27 (1993): 38. Also see her Gender, Generation and
Virginity in Cappadocian Theology, JThS 47 (1996): 3668, especially 58 and 62
68.
124. See Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 2.2, SC 119:268.
125. See Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 17.2, SC 119:45662.
126. See Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 19, SC 119:490.
127. See Harrison, Gender Reversal, 3438, as well as her Male and Female,
and The Feminine Man in Late Antique Ascetic Piety, Union Seminary Quarterly
Review 48 (1994): 4971. Also see Clementina Mazzucco, Matrimonio e verginit
nei padri tra IV e V secolo: Prospettive femminile, in La donna nel pensiero cristiano
antico, ed. Umberto Mattioli (Genoa: Marietti, 1992), 13840. The western fifth-
century Rule of the Master 2:3031 provides another example of a male superior
encouraged to develop maternal qualities.
128. For the pre-Cappadocian view of female ascetics becoming male, see Umberto
Mattioli, Asyneia e ndrea: Aspetti della femminilit nella letteratura classica,
biblica e cristiana antica (Rome: Bulzoni, 1983); Kerstin Aspergen, The Male Woman:
A Feminine Ideal in the Early Church (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1990); and
Kari Vogt, Becoming Male: A Gnostic and Early Christian Metaphor, in The
Image of God: Gender Models in Judeo-Christian Tradition, ed. Kari Elisabeth
Brresen (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 17086.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 291

in charge of educating the young girls was to show fatherly compassion


(LR 15.12). Basil, or one of his disciples, lauded the female ascetics for
their virility of spirit.129 Basil likewise praised the female martyr for
her courage and manliness, setting her up as a model for both sexes since
men and women equally image God.130 This is significant, for asceticism
was understood as a participation in the grace of martyrdom. The
martyrs were seen as courageous; literally, manly. Consequently, female
ascetics were to be manly in their fight against sin, Satan and any
weakness.131 Another Pontic bishop, Basil of Ancyra, advocated the same
virilization of virgins in his ascetic treatise.132
For this reason, Gregory congratulated Emmelia and her daughter
Macrina for their composure after Naucratius death. Macrina, by her
own firmness and unyielding spirit, trained her mothers soul to be
courageous (ndrean, lit. manly). Consequently, her mother was not
carried away by her misfortune, nor did she react in an ignoble and
womanish fashion.133 Experiencing weakness and emotions is not
wrong, surrendering to them to the point of losing control is discounte-
nanced here.134 Gregory portrayed his sister Macrina as having become
all things: father, teacher, pedagogue, mother, counselor to the young
Peter because of her ascetic regime.135 She manifested these traits in her
dealings with others as she supervised the adelphote\s.136 Macrinas
becoming all things reflects the Basilian monastic ideology that in
Christ There is neither male nor female, and Christ is all things for all
human beings.137 Each person is called to be such; thus Gregory of
Nyssa holds up Macrina as an example of the practical fruition of
integrating the masculine and the feminine.
This spiritual and psychological integration of both feminine and
masculine qualities in each person has its historical antecedent in Philo of

129. Basil of Caesarea, inst. ascet. 3, PG 31:642D; FC 9:12.


130. See Harrison, Male and Female, 44650, and Kari Elisabeth Brresen,
Gods Image, Mans Image? Patristic Interpretation of Gen. 1,27 and I Cor. 11,7, in
The Image of God: Gender Models in Judeo-Christian Tradition, ed. Kari Elisabeth
Brresen (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 19698.
131. See Mazzucco, Matrimonio e verginit, 13338.
132. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 51, PG 30:772CD.
133. Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 10, SC 178:172; FC 58:170.
134. Concerning Macrinas virility, see Albrecht, Das Leben der heiligen
Makrina, 197204. Concomitantly, Gregory expresses emotion and gives into crying
at the death of Macrina, but all in due measure.
135. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 12, SC 178:182.
136. See Elm, Virgins of God, 91 and 101.
137. Gregory of Nyssa, virg. 20.4, GNO 8.1:328.46; FC 58:64.
292 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

Alexandria.138 Harrison has demonstrated that Philos anthropological


ideal is ultimately a kind of androgyny of the soul, a development of
both masculine and feminine virtues and faculties within a harmonious
wholeness.139 She also observes that Basilian monasticism exercised a
searching critique of existing social norms including the contrasting
patterns of life expected of males and females. Among Basils ascetics, the
activities and goals of both genders were the same.140 Since no one
virtue can be actualized unless all the others are present too, Harrison
concludes, there cannot be different male and female forms of human
excellence. Such a situation would prevent both men and women from
attaining full human perfection, likeness to God and salvation.141
Nevertheless, this common embracing of both masculine and feminine
qualities by the monks and nuns neither violates nor vitiates their proper
sexual identity. The nuns are to dress in feminine apparel.142 This is in
accord with the Synod of Gangra canon 13 which forbade the external
masculinization of female ascetics, particularly by their garb, a practice
endorsed by the followers of Eustathius.143 Basils monks and nuns were
to appreciate and to honor their proper sexual make-up while not letting
that become a source of division in the body of Christ. Basil was sensitive
to the particular needs of women. Although Basils second ascetic
discourse is addressed to both monks and nuns, he did exclusively treat
the concerns of female ascetics in one section.144
For the Cappadocians, the ascription of masculine characteristics to
females and feminine qualities to males found its theological basis not
only in the transformation wrought by Christ through baptism, but in
the very nature of God who transcends and encompasses both traits. In
the beginning of his Rules, Basil exhorted his monastics to recall the
natural affection children have for their mother and thus to engender in
themselves the same disposition toward God as children possess who

138. See Richard A. Baer, Jr., Appendix I: Philos Description of the Therapeutae
in v. contemp. in Reference to the Categories Male and Female, in Philos Use of the
Categories Male and Female (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970), 98101.
139. Verna E. F. Harrison, The Allegorization of Gender: Plato and Philo on
Spiritual Childbearing, in Asceticism, eds. Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard
Valantasis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 521.
140. Harrison, Male and Female, 445.
141. Harrison, Male and Female, 453.
142. See SR 210, PG 31:1221D1224A. Also confer LR 22.3, PG 31:980CD for
an implicit reference to feminine clothing. All of LR 22 deals with monastic garb.
143. See Hefeles comments in NPNF 2.14:9798, as well as Elm, Virgins of God,
10811.
144. See Basil of Caesarea, ascet. 2.2, PG 31:888AD.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 293

love and cling to their mother.145 Elsewhere Basil employed feminine


imagery with regard to God.146 Indeed, the Cappadocians were accus-
tomed to utilizing genderized metaphors,147 while stressing that God
transcends such limited categories.148
For Basil of Caesarea, the spiritual androgyny of the soul, made in the
image and likeness of God, functions as the theological and ontological
basis for the equality of men and women.149 This equality among all the
members of the monastic community is discussed in one of Basils Short
Rules. In what way are we to be converted and become as little
children? Basil responded, So that we should not seek pre-eminence,
but recognise that we are all by nature of equal honour, and love to be
honoured equally with those who seem to fall short of us in some things.
For such are children in their relations with one another.150 This
spiritual equality especially supersedes familial ties, common in a double
monastery.151
294 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

shadow of evil suspicion could be avoided (LR 33). Contact between


the two groups was occasioned by both physical and spiritual needs:
administrating property and business, food and clothing, as well as souls
and sacraments (LR 33.1). Communication between the men and
women was conducted by at least one, but not more than three elders
from each party. If anyone had personal business to conduct, this was
carried out by the chosen elder representatives (LR 33.23). Certain
brothers were in charge of manual labor on behalf of the sisters. Once
again in this text adelphote\s is used as an umbrella term covering both
groups joined together into one monastic unit.153
This caution concerning encounters between men and women should
not be interpreted either as misogyny or the sexual demonization of
women, for in the midst of this discussion Basil stated, Let the same
good order be preserved not only in the relations of women with men
and men with women, but also in those of persons of the same sex.154
The same is repeated in SR 220, an individual man [nr] ought not to
talk with another man [ndr] just as he pleases.155 Here the Greek is
gender specific. Basil, first of all, most probably had in mind preventing
idle chatter and whispering between and among any community mem-
bers.156 Complete monastic silence was valued.157 Secondly, he was
concerned with not providing occasion for sexual impropriety. Basil
warned against particular friendships and inappropriate affection
among the ascetics from which arise suspicions and jealousies.158
Beyond basic human friendships and jealousies, perhaps Basil had
homosexual liaisons in mind as well.159
De renuntiatione saeculi, a work formerly ascribed to Basil,160 bears

153. See LR 33.2, PG 31:997CD, as well as Basil of Caesarea, ascet. 2.2, PG


31:888CD.
154. LR 33.2, PG 31:1000A; Clarke 199.
155. SR 220, PG 31:1228B; Clarke 310.
156. This is explicitly borne out in SR 220. Also see Basil of Caesarea, ascet. 2.2,
PG 31:885C.
157. See LR 13, PG 31:949BC, SR 23, PG 31:1097D1100A, and 208, PG
31:1221AC. Also see Giet, Les ides et laction sociales de saint Basile, 19192.
158. Basil of Caesarea, ascet. 2.2, PG 31:885A; FC 9:219.
159. The word and concept homosexual is of modern coinage. The ancients,
especially Greeks, were possibly more so bisexual. Countless works have been
devoted to this topic, but I have found one recent article with an historical approach
particularly worth noting: Mark D. Smith, Ancient Bisexuality and the Interpreta-
tion of Romans 1:2627, JAAR 64 (1996): 22356. See his bibliography for further
references.
160. This work is from an early Basilian monastery; see Clarke, Ascetic Works, 10,
and Jean Gribomont, Basil, St., NCE, 144.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 295

out such a suspicion.161 Disciples of Basil warned against the possibil-


ity of homosexual attraction arising within the monastery. Every pretext
for meeting with a young monk was to be avoided.162 Homosexual
activity must have been perennial, for the Basilian text adjures against
plotting sexual encounters, Do not believe the crafty argument which
suggests to you that this is quite a harmless thing to do, but be fully
convinced, by the often repeated experience of those who have fallen and
have clearly demonstrated it to be so, that it is of itself an offensive act
(my emphasis).163
Basil the Greats contemporary, Basil of Ancyra, was also concerned
about homosexual activity among his ascetics. In several places he
warned the virgins against lesbian desires and their fulfillment.164 He
likewise forbade the males to engage in comparable sexual encounters.165
Thus, while the monastic legislators were aware of the dangers of contact
between male and female ascetics leading to sexual temptations as well
as intercourse, they were equally cognizant of the possible sexual activity
between same-sex ascetics. Double monasteries were fraught with no
more possibilities for sexual scandal than were all-male or all-female
communities. The core issue was physical celibacy and spiritual conti-
nence.166 The issue of contact was not simply a male/female dynamic.
Apparently, the matter of verbal communication between the brothers
and sisters was an area needing further clarification in Basilian monasti-
cism, for it arose again in the Short Rules, composed after the Long
Rules. May the male Superior speak to a sister things that edify the faith
in the absence of the female Superior? Basil rejoined, On such
occasions the apostles precept Let all things be done decently and in
order is not observed.167 He next was asked, May the male Superior

161. See David Amand, Lascse monastique de saint Basile: Essai historique
(Maredsous: Editions de Maredsous, 1948), 24648, for homosexuality in Basilian
monasticism and SR 242.
162. See Basil of Caesarea, renunt. 5, PG 31:637BC.
163. Basil of Caesarea, renunt. 5, PG 31:637C; FC 9:24. Sayings from the desert
fathers likewise attest to monks wrestling with homosexual desires; in the alphabeti-
cal collection of the Apophth. Patr., see the following sayings: Eudemon, John the
Dwarf #4, IssacPriest of the Cells #5, and Poemen #176. In the anonymous series,
see #49. Also see Graham Gould, The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 125 note 81.
164. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 29, 45, 62 & 66; PG 30:728CD, 757C, 797AC
& 804B. Elm only cites chapter 62; see her Virgins of God, 121.
165. See Basil of Ancyra, virg. 45, PG 30:757C.
166. See especially Basil of Ancyra, virg. 66; PG 30:804B.
167. SR 108, PG 31:1156C; Clarke 270.
296 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

speak frequently with the female Superior, especially if some of the


brethren are offended thereby? His response: Yes, since the apostle
said: Why is my liberty judged by anothers conscience? He qualifies,
however, that such meetings should be rare and to the point.168 Even
though there was nothing wrong with the two Superiors jointly discuss-
ing matters as necessity would require, prolonged contact between the
two was to be minimized so as not to raise suspicions.
Daily experiences raised the need for further clarification. When a
sister confesses to a senior should the senior sister be present too?
Confession to the senior, who is able to prescribe the manner of
repentance and correction with due knowledge, will take place more
fittingly and discreetly in the presence of the senior sister.169 The
circumstance is difficult to reconstruct. Basil had already specified that
two people were never to meet alone, no matter what gender. This
confession is not sacramental since Basil uses the word priest in the
Rules when he means one.170 Is this question occasioned by an instance
of spiritual direction? This likewise seems unlikely; two women would
have to be present. I propose two possibilities. 1) A sister working with
other monks and nuns under the supervision of a male elder commits
some fault. The elder sister in charge of her is to be called in as witness
to the admittance of fault and appropriate correction. 2) In smaller
double monasteries where the nuns outnumbered the monks, the male
elder would have more occasion to work directly with the sisters.171 The
female supervisor is summoned to ensure that matters are being handled
correctly.
That the matter in question here involved work is further suggested by
the next question: If the senior has ordered something to be done
among the sisters without the knowledge of the senior sister, is the senior
sister justified in being angry? Basil succinctly responded, Certainly.172
While communication between the men and women was to be limited (as
was all speech), certain channels of communication and cooperation
were nevertheless to be maintained. The two groups formed one
community, spiritually, economically and governmentally. The indigna-
tion of the female supervisor is justified because the unity and equality of

168. SR 109, PG 31:1156CD; Clarke 27071.


169. SR 110, PG 31:1157A; Clarke 271.
170. See SR 64, 231 & 265; PG 31:1128D, 1236C1237A & 1261D1264A as
well as Clarke, Ascetic Works, 40.
171. See SR 154. This will be discussed below when dealing with economics.
172. SR 111, PG 31:1157A; Clarke 271.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 297

the two groups were transgressed and jeopardized. Understandably, the


matter of governance received perennial attention in the Rule of Basil.

GOVERNANCE

The bipolarity in the double monastery is particularly evidenced in


matters of governance. As has already been seen, Basil refers to a male
superior and a female superior and their right to confer with each other
when necessary (SR 108 & 109). Administering punishment in the
adelphote\s is to be left to the discretion of the superiors (SR 106). While
the superiors might refer to a larger body of elders, it at least
designates the male and female superiors who deal respectively with
those in their charge. SR 105 likewise refers to the superiors deciding
who is to be trained in the various arts and trades. This rule immediately
follows a question concerning the assignment of duties to brothers and
sisters.
Consequently, when Basil speaks of the superiors one ought first to
interpret this as denoting the male and female superior together. Clarke
on the other hand, understands the plural in the light of LR 35 wherein
Basil discusses the merging of several communities in one locality, thus
possibly creating a plurality of superiors within the one, new adelphote\s.173
While such a scenario is plausible, Basil says nothing as to whether all
the superiors remain in office. Neither does such a scheme detract from
superiors primarily denoting the male and female leaders who act in
concert. Several rules make sense read in such a perspective. The
superiors are to heal any spiritual illnesses in the adelphote\s, but if
someone is reprobatewhether monk or nun, that person is to be
removed from the community (LR 29 & 30 and SR 160). Decisions
concerning work assignments are made by the male and female superiors
who work together (SR 119). We have some indication of the relation-
ship between the male and female superior when Basil writes, Now,
what greater sign of humility is there than for the superiors of the
community to submit to one another?174 The principle operative here is
that of humility and recognizing anothers gifts.
Consequently, the superiorwhether male or femalenever acts
alone. In LR 48 Basil exhorts that all is to be done with counsel. LR 49
continues in the same collegial vein. Regarding problems arising within
the adelphote\s, some one approved person should be empowered either

173. See Clarke, Ascetic Works, 41 and 203 note 2.


174. LR 35.3, PG 31:1005C; FC 9:303.
298 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

to refer the disputed point to the community for general consideration or


to bring it to the attention of the superior.175 Thus, there is a collegial
governing body composed of the approved elders of the adelphote\s; Basil
speaks of those who hold the highest positions in the community (LR
31). Just as there is a male superior (proesto\s) and a female superior
(proesto\sa), there are male elders (presbyteroi) and female elders
(presbyterai) who help govern.176
Not only is a collegial spirit of governance endorsed, presumably
modeled on that of the apostolic community, but Sirach 32.24 Do
everything with counsel is again quoted in SR 104 as the basis for the
right of the brothers to vote on matters regarding administration. The
sisters do likewise. SR 104 affords insight into the governance of the
adelphote\s; the monks and nuns have parallel structures by which they
govern their own respective internal affairs by means of consultation and
deliberative vote.177
Consequently, the prior is chosen by the superior and his elders (LR
45.1). If necessary, the superior is to be corrected by those who are
preeminent in the adelphote\s (LR 27); the superioress plays a role in such
matters (SR 108 & 111). Furthermore, the superior must be approved by
the male and female heads of the other monasteries, after presumably
being elected by the elders of the local community.178
Was there, however, one major superior in the adelphote\s? Unfortu-
nately, only one of the Rulesa compilation of answers to questions
raised by the monasticsresolves this important question in a decisive
manner. While several of the Rules refer to the superior of the
adelphote\s (LR 27, 32.1, 41.2 and 45.1), only SR 303 elucidates the
issue.
It is necessary then that he who is over the community [tn proestta to
koino, i.e., the one who supervises] and gives orders to all should after
strict testing be entrusted with this care and should watch over each man
[= one] anxiously, as is meet, in order that he may lay down rules and issue
commands for the common good in a manner well pleasing to God, due
regard being paid to the abilities and strength of each.179

175. LR 49, PG 31:1057CD; FC 9:327.


176. SR 82 speaks of the senior sisters as spiritual mothers in the community.
177. Also see Clarke, Ascetic Works, 24, and Elm, Virgins of God, 74.
178. See LR 43.2; PG 31:1029A. Clarke and Wagner are incorrect when they
translate gkrnv as to chose; see Clarke 216 and FC 9:320. The verb primarily
means to admit, to select, to approve; see LSJ.
179. SR 303, PG 31:1207B; Clarke 347.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 299

Arguably, there was one major superior in the adelphote\s. Clarke


contends, The mother-superior is responsible for discipline under the
general superintendence of the father-superior.180 Short Rules 108 and
111 presuppose the underlying preeminence of the male superior over
the whole community, though the proper authority of the superioress is
to be safeguarded.181
But was the major superior in Greek double monasteries always a
man? The Rule of Basil nowhere stipulates that this must be the case;
priesthood is not a prerequisite.182 We have already seen that the
deaconess Marthana was the head of the Pontic double monastery at
Saint Theclas. Hilpisch cites Susanna of the sixth century as the mother
superior of an Egyptian double monastery, as well as Anthusa in the mid-
eighth century over one existing in Bithynia.183 According to the Rule of
Basil, the most qualified person was to be elected superior; what if this
were a woman?
Indeed, the situation at Macrinas double monastery evinces that she
was the major superior. Konstantinos Bonis, however, presents Basil as
the true leader of the double monastery at Annesi with Macrina only as
an aide.184 Yet other evidence stands against this interpretation: Basil did
not spend much time at Annesi and arrived after the monastery of men
and women was already established. Thus, Elm rightly rejects Bonis
interpretation as without basis.185 Gregory unquestionably presented
Macrina as the all-encompassing spiritual authority at Annesi. In his
account he mentioned encountering one of the workmen as he ap-
proached the monastery. Gregory asked if his brother (Peter) were
there, then he inquired about the superioress (meglh).186 Pierre Maraval
believes that it is not necessary to translate this as superior, but rather
as the Great.187 While this term does mean great and can be used as an
hagiographic epithet, it likewise designates the superior of a religious
community.188 There are, moreover, contextual reasons for here translating
meglh as superioress. Two (Greek) sentences later Gregory referred to

180. Clarke, Ascetic Works, 38. Also see his Basil the Great, 117.
181. See Elm, Virgins of God, 7475.
182. See Clarke, Ascetic Works, 39.
183. See Hilpisch, Doppelklster, 1314, 16 and 18.
184. See Konstantinos G. Bonis, Basilios von Caesarea und die Organisation der
christlichen Kirche im vierten Jahrhundert, in Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Human-
ist, Ascetic, ed. Paul J. Fedwick (Toronto, 1979), vol. 1, 292300.
185. See Elm, Virgins of God, 104.
186. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 15.2428, SC 178:192.
187. See SC 178:24 note 2.
188. See Lampe.
300 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

Macrina as kayhgoumnh which definitely means superioress; ten words


later, in the same sentence, it is paralleled with meglh.189 Furthermore,
only once is Peter their brother called meglow. This occurs after he is said
to direct (kayhgeto) the mens quarters.190 Nothing warrants not
believing that Macrina was the major superior. She was regularly
denoted by meglh.191 The first time Gregory called her by that title is
after the death of Naucratius, when men and women had already been
gathered around her.
Yet another text probably testifies to a nuns being the major superior
of a Basilian double monastery. Benot Gain avers that Basils letters
contain no references to double monasticism.192 This, however, is not
true.193 Gribomont has convincingly demonstrated from the manuscript
tradition and internal textual evidence that letters 173 and 22 originally
formed one whole.194 Consequently, the letter addressed to the canoness
Theodora (173) was actually written to a double monastery. Gribomont
argues that Basilian communities were normally double, and nothing
prevents the assertion that Theodora had been either the secretary and
spokesperson or the principal authority of a mixed group which had sent
questions to Basil.195 As to her being the secretary/liaison and not the
major superior, this does not appear likely since 1) the male superior
most probably would have been able to write, and 2) Basil would have
acknowledged the superior by name (whether male or female) at the
head of his letter, as was his custom. Nothing necessitates rejecting
Theodora as the major superior.196
Furthermore, the Basilian monastery in Caesarea containing some
relics of the forty martyrs of Sebaste was governed by two of Basils
nieces.197 Presumably some monks were attached to such an important

189. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 16.1011, SC 178:194.


190. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 37.12 and 38.2, SC 178:258/60.
191. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 10.1, 15.28, 16.11, 18.7, 19.39, 22.5, 28.6,
31.3, and 37.28.
192. See Gain, glise de Cappadoce, 155 note 145.
193. See below for a discussion of letter 207 in the context of monastic worship
and Mateos comments.
194. See Jean Gribomont, Le rgles pistolaires de s. Basile: Lettres 173 et 22,
Antonianum 54 (1979): 25587. For the reconstructed text with emendations based
upon the manuscript tradition as found in the Asceticon as well as a commentary, see
pages 26684.
195. Gribomont, Rgles pistolaires, 265.
196. See Elm, Virgins of God, 147 and 205.
197. See Gaudentius of Brescia, serm. 17 (340), PL 20:965A, and Michel-Ange
Marin, Les vies des pres des dserts dOrient, vol. 6 (Paris: Librairie de Louis Vivs,
1864), 191.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 301

Cappadocian devotional site, ministering to the needs of pilgrims as well


as aiding the nuns with manual labor. In double monasteries where the
nuns outnumbered the monks one would not be surprised if the
superioress were the principal authority.
SR 82 recognizes some senior sisters for their spiritual maternity and
authority within the adelphote\s. Furthermore, because the leader was to
appropriate both positive masculine and feminine traits when becoming
Christ-like, the person more perfectly embodying these and other
spiritual qualities would be the most fitting major superior. Basil was
primarily concerned with spiritual fecundity and generativity. Conse-
quently, I conclude that some Basilian double monasteries most probably
were governed by a woman serving as the spiritual mother and major
superior.
One last point concerning governance needs to be made. Each
adelphote\s was not to live in isolation but to be connected to the other
monasteries. This was achieved by the superiors who met at what might
be called a General Chapter (LR 54). These meetings were to be held on
a regular basis but the text does not specify if the attendants are the
major superiors alone, or the male and female superior from each
adelphote\s. This body collegially decided matters. Clarke contends that
the superioresses were not present and women did not travel and mix
with men.198 Pargoire, on the other hand, suggests that questions at the
Chapter regarding the sisters were posed by the nuns themselves.199 I
conclude that if the major superior were a female, she most probably
attended the General Chapter. Contrary to Clarkes claims, many
monastic women travelled extensively and mixed with monks, for
example: Egeria, Melania, Paula, Eustochium, among others. Further-
more, the male and female superiors regularly consulted one another at
the local level; why should they not at the regional?
There is not enough evidence to declare either way regarding the
attendance of nuns at the General Chapter. Nor is it clear how the
outcome of the nuns vote in the adelphote\s (SR 104) affected the final
decision reached by the major superior concerning matters pertaining to
the entire adelphote\s. Was the equality and collegiality between monks
and nuns lived out to the fullest governmental extent? This remains
unknown. Nevertheless, the major superior was concerned with how to
enable both the monks and nuns to image Christ and the apostolic
community in their spiritual lives.

198. See Clarke, St. Basil the Great, 73. Also see his Ascetic Works, 17 and 38.
199. See Pargoire, Basile de Csare (saint) et Basiliens, 504.
302 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

MONASTIC OFFICE

Unfortunately, little is known as to how the monastic office was prayed


in Basilian double monasteries.200 The Rule of Basil only provides
circumstantial evidence, though historical contextualization helps am-
plify the faint notes contained therein. The fullest witness to life in Basils
monasteries is Macrinas double monastery. There, the monks and nuns
gathered together in the same church to pray the monastic hours.201 They
were arranged in separate choirs facing each other. Gregory provided
precious insight as to how the monastics regularly chanted the psalms
when he recorded the events after Macrinas death. He noted:
The report spread about on all sides and all the people of the area began to
rush in so that the vestibule was not large enough to hold them. There was
an all night vigil with hymn-singing as is the custom in the case of the
praise of martyrs, and, when it was finished and day dawned, a crowd of
those who had hurried in from the entire countryside, men and women
both, broke in on the psalmody with their cries of grief. . . . Separating the
flow of people according to sex, I put the women with the choir of nuns
and the men in the ranks of the monks. I arranged for the singing to come
rhythmically and harmoniously from the group, blended well as in choral
singing with the common responses of all.202

The two choirs sang antiphonally with the response in unison.203 Under
Marthanas supervision, the monks and nuns at Saint Theclas likewise
prayed the hours together. Decades later, the local bishop, Basil of
Seleucia (d. 459), remarked that the male and female monastics contin-
ued to celebrate the liturgical offices in common at the church.204 The
adelphote\s of men and women at Sannabodaeformerly governed by
the blessed Leucadiospresumably worshipped together, for Gregory
of Nazianzus wrote them:

200. For general background, see J. Mateos, Loffice monastique la fin du IVe
sicle: Antioche, Palestine, Cappadoce, OC 47 (1963): 5388.
201. See Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 22, SC 178:212. Note that Gregory joins them
and thus must be with the monks.
202. Gregory of Nyssa, v. Macr. 33, SC 178:248; FC 58:186. Maraval argues that
this vestibule was the churchs; see SC 178:248 note 2.
203. Such a practice was recorded in Philos account of the ascetical Therapeutae.
See Philo, v. contemp. 8389, and Baer, Appendix I: Philos Description of the
Therapeutae, 99101.
204. See Basil of Seleucia, v. Thecl., PG 85:617AC, as well as A. Lambert,
Apotactites et Apotaxamnes, DACL 2612.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 303

What we desire, in fact, is that each monk and nun [kaston ka ksthn],
model himself and herself on the life of this blessed one to such an extent
that when you look at each other, you may be convinced that you have
before your eyes that which characterized him.205

Apparently the monks and nuns had occasion to see each other, most
probably when they prayed the monastic offices. Such was the custom in
the Pontic double monastery which sprang up in the sixth century
around Alypius the Stylite.206 To my knowledge, there is no evidence that
monks and nuns in any of the double monasteries throughout Asia
Minor did not celebrate the monastic offices in common.
Basil of Caesarea presumes this arrangement in one of his letters:
I wish you to know that we profess to have orders of men and women
whose conduct of life is heavenly, who have crucified the flesh with its
passions and desires, who are not solicitous about food and clothing, but,
being free from distractions and constantly waiting on the Lord, continue in
their prayers night and day. Their mouths do not speak idly of the works of
men, but they chant hymns to our God continuously.207

While this passage does not explicitly refer to double monasteries, the
ascetic practices Basil described would, nevertheless, apply to such
communities. In fact, a few lines later Basil wrote, Among us the people
[law] come early after night-fall to the house of prayer, and in labor and
affliction and continual tears confess to God. Finally, rising up from their
prayers, they begin the chanting of psalms. And now, divided into two
parts, they chant antiphonally.208 The term people (law) is vague.
J. Mateos argues that this refers to the male and female ascetics
assembled together, the terminology being purposely inclusive.209 Even if
this word only refers to the laity (Basilian monasticism was urban and
attracted numerous people from the parish),210 it is worth noting that
they divided into two choirs for praying the monastic psalmody, just as
was done in Macrinas church. SR 312 possibly deals with the laity
joining the monastics for prayer.
Given what is known concerning the practices of Pontic double
monasteries and Basils own account in his letter, indications regarding

205. Gregory of Nazianzus, ep. 238.4, Gallay 2:129, my translation.


206. See Hippolyte Delehaye, Les saints stylites (Paris: Librarie Auguste Picard,
1923), lxxxiv.
207. Basil of Caesarea, ep. 207.2, Courtonne 2:18586; FC 28:83.
208. Basil of Caesarea, ep. 207.3, Courtonne 2:186; FC 28:83.
209. See Mateos, Office monastique, 8186.
210. See LR 35, PG 31:1008B, and Fedwick, Church and Charisma.
304 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

the liturgical hours in his Rule can justifiably be read in this light. While
Basil nowhere in his Rules explicitly mentions the monastic office being
prayed in common by the monks and nuns, there are, however, six
sections which suggest such a practice:
1) Consider the following:
Again at the third hour we must rise to prayer and collect the brotherhood
[delfthta], should they happen to be scattered to their various
occupations and, remembering the gift of the Spirit given to the apostles at
the third hour, we must worship all together that we too may become
worthy to receive sanctification.211

Worship is to be a corporate enterprise excluding no one. Furthermore,


the event which is commemoratedthe imparting of the Holy Spirit
happened within the midst of the apostles and the Virgin Mary as well as
the other women gathered in the upper room.212 This body of believers
was paradigmatic for Basilian monastic practices.
2) As previously noted, in some small double monasteries the nuns
outnumbered the monks (SR 154). Clarke comments,
The common life with its round of prayer is impaired by the necessary
duties of the few men. One might be digging in the fields, another carting,
another mending the roof, and corporate observance of the Hours would
become impossible.213

In other words, not all of the male ascetics could always participate in
the monastic office because of the extraordinary demands of work. Basil
consoles these brothers, telling them that they are all of one soul and
one mind with their fellow monastics who are present at the office, for
even though they cannot be there physically, they are nevertheless joined
spiritually with the sisters (SR 154). This text is important, for it testifies
to the spiritual unanimity which existed between the nuns and monks.
This concrete concord in Basilian double monasticism took as its basis
and model the original apostolic community of men and women which
was of one heart and mind, praying together in the Temple (Acts 2.42
46 and 4.2332).
3) Concerning the admittance of someone (tiw) into the community,
Basil stated that this necessitated the knowledge of all the brothers and
sisters (pntvn tn delfn) so that they may rejoice together and

211. LR 37.3, PG 31:1013B; Clarke 207.


212. If one reads attentively Acts 1.122.4 one realizes that the one hundred and
twenty is a group of men and women.
213. Clarke, Ascetic Works, 285.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 305

pray together (na sugxarsin llloiw ka sunejvntai).214 This rule


strongly implies that prayers were celebrated in common.
4) In fact, SR 281 concerns a sister who refuses to sing the psalms.
Unless she reform, she is to be expelled, lest a little leaven corrupt the
whole lump. The obscurity lies with the term lump. If adelphote\s had
been used in its place, the matter would be easily resolved. An
examination, however, of where else Basil employs Gal 5.9/I Cor 5.6 is
instructive. In LR 28 and 47 as well as SR 86 this verse is quoted in
reference to the destructive attitudes in the adelphote\s. Lump appears
in only three other cases (not counting the one under discussion),
concerning matters which would presumably affect the whole commu-
nity of men and women (SR 20, 57 and 84). I conclude that SR 281 most
probably attests to the Basilian practice of monks and nuns chanting the
psalms in common because a) other Cappadocian double monasteries
had this custom, particularly Basils sisters community, b) the previously
examined circumstantial evidence in Basils Rules points in this direction,
and c) because of the textual correspondence between Gal 5.9 and the
term adelphote\s. Positioned in facing choirs, seeing one monastic
refusing to sing would incite others to become distracted, or worse yet,
imitators, thus bringing discord to the whole choir.
5) Furthermore, SR 307 seems to imply that monks and nuns took
turns in leading the monastic offices. Is it necessary that the leading of
the daily psalmody or prayers be by turns? The response:
All of those who are capable of leading must do so observing right order,
lest one consider this duty insignificant and unimportant, and lest the
alternation between the same two persons cause the leaders to be suspected
of arrogance and it appear as if the rest of the people were being
despised.215

The antiphonal style of chanting the psalms is implied and once again the
gender-inclusive term person (prsvpon) is utilized. Significantly, this
rule does not exclude sisters from leading the prayers and intoning the
psalms.

214. SR 112, PG 31:1157B; my translation.


215. SR 307, PG 31:1301B; my translation basically agreeing with Lbes French
translation: efi xr j fhmeraw prxesyai tw calmdaw, tw proseuxw. Toto n
t plyei tn jvn fulajtv tn etajan, na mte etelw ka diforon t
prgma nomisy, mte mn malthw f nw ka deutrou pros pou perhfanaw
to goumnou ka katafronsevw tn loipn d pocan. Clarkes Let this question
keep its rightful place among the multitude of important questions . . . is quite
incorrect; see Clarke 349.
306 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

6) Finally, a passage dealing with the celebration of the Eucharist


strongly suggests that both nuns and monks attended the same divine
liturgy. When asked whether someone should receive communion after a
natural flow (presumably some sexual impurity), Basil responded that
Christians have been cleansed by baptism and are now above nature.
Moreover,
They that are of Christ have crucified the flesh with its lusts and passions.
And I know that this has been attained both in men and women by the
grace of Christ, through genuine faith in the Lord.216

Given Basils Eucharistic theology that only one Eucharist should be


celebrated in one community,217 it is extremely unlikely that the monks
and nuns participated in separate divine liturgies.
One last witness, albeit quite late, indirectly suggests that Basilian
double monasteries had a common office. Canon 20 of Nicaea II (787)
stipulates what may not be in common in Basilian double monasteries,
namely, common living quarters and refectories. It also regulates com-
munication between the monks and nuns. This canon, however, says
nothing about praying the office and celebrating divine liturgy in
common; presumably this was sanctioned since it was not proscribed as
other matters were.
Thus, it appears most likely that Basils double monasteries followed
the practices of other double monasteries in Asia Minor in celebrating
the monastic offices in common. The choir of monks complemented that
of the nuns, creating a pleasing melodious effect. The common responses
were sung together, most probably in unison. This liturgical structure
embodied the proper diversity and unity within the one monastic family
of men and women.

ECONOMIC STRUCTURE

Not only did the Basilian double monastery form a single spiritual entity,

216. SR 309, PG 31:1304A; Clarke 350.


217. See Fedwick, Church and Charisma, 121.
218. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees, 154.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 307

The major superior looked out for the economic welfare of the whole
community (LR 41). Officers were set in charge to oversee various
workshops (LR 53). Presumably the men were in charge of building,
carpentry and smithing (LR 38). The women were devoted to textiles (SR
153). Clarke remarks that the senior sister in charge of this industry
occupies a position parallel to that of the master of the workshops, weaving
for women taking the place of the many trades for men. . . . We are led to
imagine the women making clothes for the men as well as themselves.219

Perhaps the nuns were also involved in basket weaving, producing


pottery and other such crafts (LR 15.4 & 41). Probably both men and
women worked in the fields and tended the fruit trees. All of these goods
were sold on the common market at a low price (LR 3940). It is not
clear who worked in the kitchen, though this was by daily turns (SR 147
& 152). By the eighth century, this was the duty of the monks who
brought the food to the superioress.220
The picture depicted by the Rule of Basil is one of economic
interdependence between the monks and nuns. Nothing warrants the
conclusion that the female community was largely dependent on its
male counterpart as Elm claims.221 A variety of crafts were open to the
nuns for their pursuit as long as these did not detract from the monastic
lifestyle (LR 38). Tending sheep, and probably goats as well, provided
wool, milk, cheese and meat which could be sold at the marketplace.
According to Basil, another form of work was education and study
(SR 61 & 9596). Both monks and nuns were in charge of training the
boys and girls taken in by the monastery (LR 15). Both the monks as well
as the nuns were trained in the Scriptures which they memorized (SR 95
& 235). Macrina likewise was renowned for her theological learning and
grasp of the sciences. Basil recognized the theological acumen of ascetic
women, writing to several such religious an exposition on trinitarian
theology.222 Gregory of Nyssa also wrote a theological treatise to
religious sisters under Basils aegis.223 Though there is no evidence,
women in Basils monasteries might have worked in a scriptorium as
other fourth-century female monastics did.224

219. Clarke, Ascetic Works, 3839.


220. See C Nic. (787) can. 20, Tanner 154.
221. Elm, Virgins of God, 73 and 75.
222. See Basil of Caesarea, ep. 52, and Elm, Virgins of God, 14647.
223. See Gregory of Nyssa, ep. 3, SC 363:12426.
224. In SR 251 Basil refers to textual variants found in copies of the Gospels. Was
this a subject familiar to his monks and nuns? The double monastery founded on the
308 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

Basil of Caesarea established a system of double monasticism by


which monks and nuns could pool their resources together, spiritual as
well as mundane. The two groups worked and prayed together to form
one monastic family, governed by one major superior who looked out for
the spiritual and temporal welfare of the whole community.

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY
In the sixth century, the Emperor Justinian attempted to regulate the
widespread practice of double monasticism. His actions, however, need
to be contextualized historically.225 The canonist E. Jombart points out
that There were in Constantinople several monasteries where monks
and nuns lived together under the same roof. This cohabitation was
forbidden by Justinian.226 Such monasteries were in fact mixed and
not double. Pargoire remarks that Justinian condemned mixed monaster-
ies because of their sexual misconduct.227 The same historical interpreta-
tion is maintained by Leclercq.228 If Elms conclusions are correct, the
monasteries of men and women founded in Constantinople in the mid-
fourth century by Macedonius and Marathonius probably followed the
Eustathian model which involved cohabitation. Had some of these
mixed monasteries survived to Justinians day? Had new ones sprung up?
Justinians first legislation in this regard, issued in 529, addresses the
problem of cohabitation.
We forbid all men dwelling in monasteries to live with women who are
nuns or to contrive any pretext for having any association with them (for
this introduces a just suspicion of meeting with them continually and
whenever they wish), but so to be segregated that they shall have no
participation with one another for any reason whatever and that no pretext
of a course of life with one another should be sought either by the latter or
by the former. But men alone by themselves should live in each monastery,
segregated from the nuns who are near-by for any reason whatever, and the
women alone by themselves, not mingled with men, for the purpose that all

Mount of Olives by Rufinus and Melania the Elder had a scriptorium; see Francis X.
Murphy, Melania the Elder, NCE, and his Rufinus of Aquileia (345411): His Life
and Works (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1945), 5355.
225. For the state of monasticism during Justinians reign, see Asterios Gerostergios,
Justinian the Great: The Emperor and Saint (Belmont, NY: Institute for Byzantine and
Modern Greek Studies, 1982), 16875.
226. Jombart, Cohabitation, historique, 973.
227. See Pargoire, Monastres doubles, 22.
228. See Leclercq, Monastre double, DACL, 2184.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 309

supposition of indecorous social intercourse should be destroyed absolutely


(my emphasis).229

Justinian gave them one year to comply, dividing equally the resources
the male and female ascetics held in common. Arguably, double monas-
teries following Basils model do not fall into this category since they
were not mixed nor were they twin, built nearby one another. The
decree of 529 appears to have been ineffective, for a similar decree was
issued in 539. Presumably problems persisted because in 543 Justinian
promulgated another decree regarding the same matter, but this time
explicates double moansteries. Once again cohabitation was the focus:
In all monasteries which are called cenobia, we order that canonical monks
all dwell in a single building and eat in common, and in a similar manner
all are to sleep separately in the same building, so that in turn they might
bear witness to chaste conduct with each other. . . . All of these things are
likewise to be observed carefully in monasteries and ascetical institutes of
women. In not a single region of our empire do we permit monks and nuns
to dwell in the same monastery or for there to exist so-called double
monasteries. Wherever such monasteries are found we absolutely order that
the men be separated from the women, and that the women remain in the
monastery where they are and that the men build another monastery for
themselves.230

To my knowledge, this is the first time the term double monastery


appears. Justinian is concerned with sexual impropriety, even among
monks. Here the legislation seems to encompass Basilian double monas-
teries; however, the focus is upon having the monks all reside in the same
building and not being scattered about. Accordingly, it follows that
monks and nuns could not dwell in the same monastic building. Charles
Diehl understands these proscriptions as pertaining to monks and nuns
living together under the same roof.231 Asterios Gerostergios likewise
reads Justinians laws as prohibition of cohabitation.232 These then
would be more accurately cases of mixed monasteries, perhaps trying to
pass off under the guise of true double monasteries. Did Justinians edicts
spell the end for Greek double monasteries with segregated quarters?

229. Justinian, cod. 1.3.43, trans. P. R. Coleman-Norton, Roman State &


Christian Church: A Collection of Legal Documents to AD 535, vol. 3 (London:
SPCK, 1966), 1032.
230. Justinian, nov. 123.36, ed. Rudulfus Schell, Corpus iuris civilis: Novellae
(Berlin: Weidmann, 1928), 619; my translation.
231. See Charles Diehl, Justinien et la civilisation byzantine au VIe sicle, vol. 2
(New York: Burt Franklin, 1969), 510.
232. See Gerostergios, Justinian the Great, 17071.
310 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

History demonstrates that Justinians decrees were not rigidly applied:


double monasteries continued to exist and to be founded. Alypius the
Stylites double community in northern Asia Minor arose in the second
half of the sixth century, during Justinians reign or soon after his
death.233 Possibly another double monastery existed around Daniel the
Stylite.234 Pargoire cites an example of a post-Justinian double monastery
which he himself remarks was clearly not mixed.235 In the seventh
century a double monastery of Egyptian monastics might have existed in
Constantinople, for the vita of Saint Patapios frequently speaks of nuns,
though these could have belonged to a nearby, but separate, institute.236
In the mid-eighth century the charismatic Anthusa built a double
monastery known as Tomantion in Bithynia over which she ruled.237 In
fact, double monasteries were flourishing in the East during the last
quarter of the eighth century. Nicaea II in 787 declared:
We decree that from now on no more double monasteries are to be started,
because this becomes a cause of scandal and a stumbling block for ordinary
folk. . . . The double monasteries that have existed up to now should
continue to exist according to the rule of our holy father Basil, and their
constitutions should follow his ordinances. Monks and nuns should not live
in one monastic building, because adultery takes advantage of such
cohabitation. . . . A monk should not sleep in a female monastery, nor
should he eat alone with a nun.238

233. It is difficult to date this but Alypius died during the reign of Heraclius (610
41) after spending sixty-seven years as a stylite; see Delehaye, Saints stylites, lxxix.
Soon after he became a stylite a double monastery arose around him. If he died in
611, the double monastery arose as early as 544, one year after Justinians decree. If
it arose after Justinians death in 565, this would place Alypius death in 633, which
is possible. Even if Alypius died in 641 this means the double monastery arose in 574
thirty years after Justinians decree.
234. In 536 Babylas was the priest and archimandrite over three monasteries
centered around Daniel the stylite: 1) Daniel, 2) St. John the Baptist and 3) St Andrew;
see Raymond Janin, La gographie ecclsiastique de lempire byzantin: Premire
partie, Le sige de Constantinople et le patriarcat oecumnique: Tome III, Les glises
et les monastres (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1969), 86. Was
one of these three monasteries for women like that at the base of Alypius column? As
Janin points out, we know nothing concerning the members. If this was a double
monastery, Justinians first decree was not obeyed.
235. See Pargoire, Monastres doubles, 2223.
236. See Janin, Gographie ecclsiastique, 1.3:12. Nothing in the vita clarifies the
matter.
237. See Paul Peeters, S. Romain le nomartyr ( 1 mai 780) daprs un document
gorgien, AB 30 (1911): 394.
238. C Nic. (787) can. 20, Tanner 15354.
STRAMARA/DOUBLE MONASTICISM 311

Clearly the concern was cohabitation and sexual impropriety. The


Council Fathers endorsed Basilian double monasticism and upheld it as
the model to be followed, thus guarding against such mixed monasticism
where monks and nuns lived in one monastic building. Understand-
ably, this type of living arrangement was to be censured and eradicated.
Thus Basilian double monasticism not only had survived for four
centuries in the Greek east but received official approbation as well.
Unfortunately, little is known about these double monasteries of the
sixth through eighth centuries. Presumably their pratices paralleled those
of Basilian monasticism with the liberty of adaptation. This institution
continued until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.239

CONCLUSION
Although typika, foundation charters and further documentation are
lacking for double monasteries of the fourth through eighth centuries
that would enable scholars to construct a socio-economic analysis, some
tentative conclusions may be drawn from the evidence cited above
regarding the existence of double monasteries. They appear to be
founded for the following reasons: 1) to emulate the early apostolic
community of men and women, 2) to gather around a charismatic leader,
3) to provide for family members who embraced monasticism, 4) to
provide for the needs of the socially displaced such as orphans, 5) to live
out effectively the equality and integration of men and women in Christ,
6) to provide for the economic needs of both male and female monastics,
and 7) to provide for the spiritual and sacramental needs of nuns.
In the Greek east, these factors gave grounds for the perennial
necessity of establishing double monasteries as well as the system of twin
neighboring monasteries. Whatever the theological ideology, mundane
and practical concerns required functional solutions. Basil of Caesarea
was a theologian of vision who not only provided for the experiential
needs of monks and nuns, but supplied the theological and spiritual
inspiration for their lives shared chastely together in one community
mirroring the apostolic body of believers. Men and women who
consecrated their lives to following the Gospel precepts found a canoni-
cally approved and time-tested institution in Basils system of double
monasticism. The dangers of cohabitation were guarded against by

239. As mentioned earlier, I plan to write another article dealing with the eighth
through fifteenth centuries.
312 JOURNAL OF EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES

prescriptions against mixed monasteries in which ascetic men and


women shared the same monastic building. But most importantly for the
great Cappadocian father, the double monastery embodied the charism
of the apostolic community of men and women and carried on the living
tradition of the church. Double monasticism was the prophetic witness
to the equality of men and women in Christ, forming one adelphote\s.
Thus, from the fourth century, double monasticism perdured in the
Greek east under the aegis of Basil the Great.

Daniel F. Stramara Jr. is Lecturer in Theology in the Department


of Theology and Religious Studies at Rockhurst College,
Kansas City, MO.