St. John Cassian

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John Cassian (360-435), also known as John the Ascetic, was a Christian monk and theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern churches for his mystical writings.  Cassian was ordained a deacon and became a member of the clergy attached to the then Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostom.  When John Chrysostom was forced into exile from Constantinople in 404, the Latin-speaking John Cassian was sent to Rome to plead his cause before Pope Innocent I.  While he was in Rome, Cassian accepted the invitation to found an Egyptian-style monastery in southern Gaul, near Marseilles.  His foundation, the Abbey of St Victor, was a complex of monasteries for both men and women, one of the first such institutes in the West, and served as a model for later monastic development.  Cassian’s achievements and writings influenced Benedict of Nursia, who incorporated many of the principles into his monastic rule, and recommended to his own monks that they read the works of Cassian.  Cassian died in 435 at Marseille.

Writings:

  • De institutis coenobiorum (Institutes of the Coenobia)
  • Conlationes or Collationes patrum in scetica eremo (Conferences of the Desert Fathers)

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