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Sixth Century:
Monasticism and Evangelization Take Center Stage


Three historical high points define this century.

Western Monasticism was born.

St. Benedict (480-550 AD) as a young man left his comfortable surroundings in Rome in order to live in a cave and embrace the life of a hermit. St. Benedict's life attracted others and in 529 he established a monastery at Monte Cassino. St. Benedict and his monks led a life of work and prayer. Eventually, their way of life led to the foundation of other monasteries.

Missionary activity continues.

In imitation of St. Patrick, St. Columban (521-597 AD) - an Irish monk - left Ireland for Scotland in 563 with twelve others to convert the Picks, a tribe of pagans. As he traveled through Scotland, St. Columban established both monasteries and hermitages, which sparked greater missionary activity in the region.

Pagan practices increase.

The barbarians who now occupied the Empire brought with them their pagan practices and superstitions. When the Church began to convert the barbarians, they noticed that many of them were Arian. Though the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople condemned Arianism, Arian priests went out and evangelized the barbarians, specifically the Lombards and Goths.