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Lerins, whose founders were among the dedicatees of the Conferences, became a flourishing aristocratic community notable for its learning. Many of its members went on to become bishops: Maximus and Faustus at Riez, Eucherius at Lyon, Lupus at Troyes and, at the beginning of the sixth century, Caesarius at Arles, to name only the best-known examples.

Styles of Western monasticism and asceticism

As the fifth century wore on, monasticism became an increasingly familiar fixture in Western society, reaching Ireland with the introduction of Christianity. The Council of Chalcedon (451) decreed that bishops were responsible for the monasteries of their diocese and should check that they were established on a sound financial basis. However, there were considerable divergences in the types of monastic life to be found within any one area of Western Europe in the fifth and sixth centuries. In Gaul, for instance, not all communities could afford or wished to embrace the aristocratic and learned lifestyle of Lerins. The Lives of the Jura fathers, composed at the end of the fifth century, portrays a community where monks carried out manual work. Though the 'fathers' - Romanus, Lupicinus and Eugendus - were of high rank, their Lives point out that they practised austerity and that their communities, Condat and Lausinne, took in poor as well as rich, followed the full common life and eventually instituted a communal dormitory.11 In some dioceses on the fringes of Western Christendom, such as Noricum in the east and Dumio in the west, monasteries functioned as episcopal centres and mission-stations to pagans.

One of the most important developments in monastic life was brought about by the growing emphasis on the cult of saints. The removal of the relics of saints from extra-mural cemeteries and their housing in churches and basilicas from the late fourth century onwards led to the evolution of a basilical-style monasticism, where either clergy or monks from an associated monastery chanted a set liturgy in the basilica at regular hours of the day. (Here there is an element of contrast with the normal monastic practice of simply going through the 150 Psalms in order and, when the end of the psalter is reached, beginning again.) Rome housed a number of these institutions - Pope Leo the Great (sed. 440-61) founded the first of the three basilical monasteries that surrounded St Peter's. Another famous example of this type of monastery is St Maurice at Agaune (515), created at the burial place of martyrs of the Theban Legion, where monks carried out 'perpetual praise', laus perennis, based on

11 Lives of the Jura fathers, trans. Vivian et al.

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