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Key Buildings from Prehistory to the Present by Andrew Ballantyne

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Le Thoronet Abbey

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Le Thoronet, Provence, France, 1170–1200

The word monk derives from the Greek monachos, meaning solitary, and the earliest monks lived alone as hermits in the desert. The first monastic community is thought to have formed in Egypt in the fourth century around St Anthony; the monks were drawn to him as a father figure (abba in Hebrew). By the sixth century, the monastic practice was established and St Benedict wrote his Rule, a set of principles that codified how monks in a community should behave in relation to one another and to their father-like abbot. Women could also live in religious communities, as nuns, with an abbess. ...

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