According to St. Benedict of Nursia, the third species of monk, sometimes also known as a sarabite. In the early Church, says Benedict's Rule, there were four categories of monk: the cenobite, anchorite, sarabaite and gyrovague, distinguished by their ways of life. That of the sarabaites was to live in twos and threes, often in cities, holding goods, studying, and doing good works in community with each other only, with no superior either among or above themselves, and under no fixed rule, the idea being a sort of mutual eremitical assistance, no doubt.

Common as they were in those days, they were already misliked by the Church in Benedict's time, and indeed by the saint himself, for being ungovernable, excessively worldly, and lax in their devotion to Christ. What Benedict does not mention in his Rule is that one of the problems that had arisen with the sarabaitical life was that it had become terribly popular among more or less devout pairs of men and women, often married to others before they cast off worldly shackles for the monastic life, who would study together with rather too much fervor and insufficiently strict attention to the doctrine of chastity. This kind of shit was perpetually happening in the early days of the Church, was a great embarrassment to Church authorities and the genuinely pious, and was no doubt one of the main reasons that saraibaitism was suppressed — probably before the end of the 6th century; certainly prior to the Second Council of Nicea. (A similar fate befell the gyrovagues, wandering mendicants likewise of ill repute, but for impiety, thievishness and gluttony.)

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Sar"a*bai*te (?), n. [LL. Sarabaitae, pl.] Eccl. Hist.

One of certain vagrant or heretical Oriental monks in the early church.

 

© Webster 1913.

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