A Devoted Life: Recommended Resources


● Christopher Brooke, The Age of the Cloister (Sutton, 2003)
● Marilyn Dunn, The Emergence of Monasticism (Blackwell, 2003)
● Joan Evans, Monastic Life at Cluny, 910–1157 (Oxford, 1931)
● Hugh Feiss, OSB, ed. and trans., Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999)
● Jennifer L. Hevelone-Harper, Disciples of the Desert (Johns Hopkins, 2005)
● William Johnston, ed., The Encyclopedia of Monasticism (Routledge, 2000)
● Peter King, Western Monasticism (Cistercian Publications, 1999)
● David Knowles, Christian Monasticism (McGraw-Hill, 1969)
● David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England (Cambridge, 1948)
● C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism (Longman, 1984)

Benedict and his Rule

● Carmen Acevedo Butcher, Man of Blessing: A Life of St. Benedict (Paraclete Press, 2006)
● Gregory the Great, The Life of St. Benedict, Book II of Dialogues, trans. by John Zimmerman, OSB (Catholic University of America Press, 1959)
Rule of St. Benedict in English, trans. by Timothy Fry (Liturgical Press, 1982)
● Anthony Marett-Crosby, ed., The Benedictine Handbook (Liturgical Press, 2003)
● David Knowles, The Benedictines (Macmillan, 1930)

Gregory the Great

St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral Care, trans. by Henry Davis, S.J. (Newman Press, 1978)
● R. A. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge, 2003)

Medieval missions

● Eleanor Duckett, The Wandering Saints (Catholic Book Club, 1959)
● Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (Henry Holt & Co., 1997)
The Letters of Saint Boniface, trans. by Ephraim Emerton (Columbia, 2000)

General history

● Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, edited by Judith McClure and Roger Collins (Oxford, 1999)
● Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages (HarperCollins, 1963, 1993)
●  Jonathan Hill, What Has Christianity Ever Done For Us?: How It Shaped the Modern World (InterVarsity, 2005)
● Joseph H. Lynch, The Medieval Church: A Brief History (Longman, 1992)
● McGinn, Bernard, ed., Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century (Herder & Herder, 1987)
● Thomas F. X. Noble and Thomas Head, eds., Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Pennsylvania State, 1995)
● Robert Royal, The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West (Encounter Books, 2006)

Christian History & Biography back issues

Issue 64: St. Antony and the Desert Fathers
Issue 63: How the Vikings Took Up the Faith
Issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved
Issue 49: Everyday Faith in the Middle Ages
Issue 42: Francis of Assisi
Issue 30: Women in the Medieval Church
Issue 24: Bernard of Clairvaux

Internet resources

● The Internet Medieval Sourcebook (www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html), edited by Paul Halsall, is an excellent compilation of medieval texts.
● The Order of St. Benedict website (www.osb.org) includes translations of Benedict’s Rule, Gregory’s Life of Benedict, and information about various aspects of monasticism. It also has a geographic directory of Benedictine monasteries and retreat houses. The best way to learn about the Benedictine tradition is to visit one of these places and experience it first hand. 

By The authors and editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #93 in 2007]

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Timeline: The Rise of Western Monasticism

From its roots in the early Eastern church, through the Benedictine centuries, to the birth of new kinds of religious orders in the Middle Ages

compiled by Antonia Ryan with contributions from Carmen Acevedo Butcher

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