Christian monasticism  

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"[Demones] assumentes nunc mulierum, nunc bestiarum, nunc serpentium formas."

"[Demons] taking the forms of women, wild beasts, creeping things."

--Life of Antony

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Christian Monasticism is a practice that began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules (e.g. the Rule of St Basil, the Rule of St Benedict) and, in modern times, the Church law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). In modern English, they are also known by the gender-neutral term "monastics." The word monk originated from the Greek word monos, which means alone. Monks did not live in monasteries at first, but they began by living alone, as the word monos might suggest. As more people took on the lives of monks, living alone in the wilderness, they started to come together and model themselves after the original monks near by. Eventually the monks lived in monasteries. Monastics generally dwell in a monastery (monks) or a convent (nuns), whether they live there in a community (cenobites), or alone (hermits).

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