Acoemetae[1][a] (also spelled Acoemeti or Akoimetoi[1] Greek: ἀκοίμητος, lit. 'sleepless ones'[1][3]) was an order of Eastern (Greek or Basilian[2]) monks who celebrated the divine service without intermission day or night. This was done by dividing the communities into choirs, which relieved each other by turn in the church.[3] The alternating choirs came in three groups by liturgical language: Greek, Latin, and probably Syriac.[1]


The Acoemetae order was founded in about 425, by the monk Alexander the Acoemete.[1] He was of noble birth,[2] originally from the Greek archipelago, and had ties to Messalianism. Alexander was supported by the people and monks such as St. Hypatius, as well as the empress Pulcheria. He changed residence many times,[1] once fleeing from the court of Byzantium to the desert, both from love of solitude and fear of episcopal honours.[2] The first Acoemetae monastery was established on the Euphrates, in the beginning of the 5th century, and soon afterwards one was founded in Constantinople,[3] with three hundred monks. The enterprise, however, proved difficult, owing to the hostility of Patriarch Nestorius and Emperor Theodosius. Driven from the monastery of St. Mennas which he had reared in the city, and thrown with his monks on the hospitality of St. Hypathius, Abbot of Rufiniana, he finally succeeded in building at the mouth of the Black Sea the monastery of Gomon,[2] where he died, about 430.[1]

Alexander's successor, Abbot John, founded on the eastern shore of the Bosphorus, opposite Sostenium or Istenia, the Irenaion, always referred to in ancient documents as the "great monastery" or motherhouse of the Acoemetae.[2] In Constantinople, under the third abbot, hegumen St. Marcellus, when the hostility of Patriarch and Emperor had somewhat subsided, Studius, a former Consul, founded the famous Studium monastery in c. 460.[1][2][3] Marcellus provided the first monks for the Studium in 463. The Studium was put in the hands of the Acoemetae and became their chief house, so that they were sometimes called "Studites".[1]

[3] At Agaunum (St Maurice in the Valais) a monastery was founded by the Burgundian king Sigismund, in 515, in which the perpetual office was kept up; but it is doubtful whether this had any connexion with the Eastern Acoemetae.[3] Later, chiefly under Abbot Theodore (759-826), the Studium became a centre of learning as well as piety, and brought to a culmination the glory of the order.[2] On the other hand, the very glamour of the new "Studites" gradually cast into the shade the old Acoemetae. The feature that distinguished the Acoemetae from the other Basilian monks was the uninterrupted service of God. Their monasteries, which numbered hundreds of inmates and sometimes went into the thousand, were distributed in national groups, Latins, Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians; and each group into as many choirs as the membership permitted and the service required: With them the divine office was the literal carrying out of Psalm 119:164: "Seven times a day have I given praise to Thee," consisting as it did of seven hours: ὀρθρινόν, τρίτη, ἐκτη, ἐνάτη, λυχνικόν, πρωθύπνιον, μεσονύκτιον, which through St. Benedict of Nursia passed into the Western Church under the equivalent names of prime, tierce, sext, none, vespers, compline, matins (nocturns) and lauds. The influence of the Acoemetae on Christian life was considerable. The splendour of their religious services largely contributed to shape the liturgy,[2] but their library and overall culture might have had an even bigger influence.[1] Even before the time of the Studites, the copying of manuscripts was in honour among the Acoemetae, and the library of the "Great Monastery," consulted even by the Roman Pontiffs, is the first mentioned by the historians of Byzantium.[2]

The Constantinopolitan Acoemetae took a prominent part in the Christological controversies of the 5th and 6th centuries;[3] first those raised by Nestorius and Eutyches, and later, in the controversies of the Icons.[2] At first, they strongly supported the Holy See in the schism of Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, who attempted compromise with the monophysites.[2][3] The Acoemetae supported Rome in defending Chalcedon, but after continued to insist on the Three Chapters, their importance diminished after 534.[1] Meanwhile, the Studites suppoted the Holy See in the scisim of Photius.[2] Afterwards, in Justinian's reign in the sixth century,[2][3] the Acoemetae fell under ecclesiastical censure for Nestorian tendencies.[3] Consequentially, their loyalty to Rome was marred, and they were excommunicated by Pope John II. But it was considered "the error of a few" (quibusdam paucis monachis, says a contemporary document), and it could not seriously detract from the praise given their order by the Roman Synod of 484: "Thanks to your true piety towards God, to your zeal ever on the watch, and to a special gift of the Holy Ghost, you discern the just from the impious, the faithful from the miscreants, the Catholics from the heretics."[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Acoemetae" was sometimes used as an appellation common to all Eastern ascetics in general who were known by the rigour of their vigils, instead of just the actual Greek or Basilian monastic order.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gribmont, J. (2014). "Acoemetae". In Di Berardino, Angelo. Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. Downers Grove: IVP Academic. p. 1:29. ISBN 978-0-8308-9717-9 – via EBSCOhost.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSollier, Joseph Francis (1913). "Acoemetae" . In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBaber, Edward Cresswell (1911). "Acoemeti" . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 150.
Acacian schism

The Acacian schism, between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches lasted 35 years, from 484 to 519. It resulted from a drift in the leaders of Eastern Christianity toward Miaphysitism and Emperor Zeno's unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the parties with the Henotikon.

Continual prayer

Perpetual prayer (Latin: laus perennis) is the Christian practice of continuous prayer carried out by a group.

Degrees of Eastern Orthodox monasticism

The degrees of Eastern Orthodox monasticism are the stages an Eastern Orthodox monk or nun passes through in their religious vocation.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the process of becoming a monk or nun is intentionally slow, as the monastic vows taken are considered to entail a lifelong commitment to God, and are not to be entered into lightly. After completing the novitiate, there are three degrees of or steps in conferring the monastic habit.

Eucharistic adoration

Eucharistic adoration is a Eucharistic practice in the Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic and some Lutheran traditions, in which the Blessed Sacrament is adored by the faithful. This practice may occur either when the Eucharist is exposed, or when it is not publicly viewable because it is reserved in a place such as a church tabernacle.

Adoration is a sign of devotion to and worship of Jesus Christ, who is believed by Catholics to be present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearance of the consecrated host, that is, sacramental bread. From a theological perspective, the adoration is a form of latria, based on the tenet of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Host.Christian meditation performed in the presence of the Eucharist outside Mass is called Eucharistic meditation. It has been practiced by such as Peter Julian Eymard, Jean Vianney and Thérèse of Lisieux. Authors such as the Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida and Blessed Maria Candida of the Eucharist have produced large volumes of text based on their Eucharistic meditations.

When the exposure and adoration of the Eucharist is constant (twenty-four hours a day), it is called perpetual adoration. In a monastery or convent, it is done by the resident monks or nuns and, in a parish, by volunteer parishioners since the 20th century. In a prayer opening the Perpetual chapel in St. Peter Basilica, Pope John Paul II prayed for a perpetual adoration chapel in every parish in the world. Pope Benedict XVI instituted perpetual adoration for the laity in each of the five sectors of the diocese of Rome.

Monastery of Stoudios

The Monastery of Stoudios, more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner "at Stoudios" (Greek Μονή του Αγίου Ιωάννη του Προδρόμου «εν τοις Στουδίου»

Monē tou Hagiou Iōannē tou Prodromou "en tois Stoudiou"), often shortened to Stoudios, Studion, or Stoudion, (Latin: Studium), was historically the most important monastery of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The residents of the monastery were referred to as Stoudites (or Studites). Although the monastery has been derelict for half a millennium, the laws and customs of the Stoudion were taken as models by the monks of Mount Athos and of many other monasteries of the Orthodox world; even today they have influence.

The ruins of the monastery are situated not far from the Propontis (Marmara Sea) in the section of Istanbul called Psamathia, today's Koca Mustafa Paşa. It was founded in 462 by the consul Flavius Studius, a Roman patrician who had settled in Constantinople, and was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist. Its first monks came from the monastery of Acoemetae.

Paul II the Black of Alexandria

Paul II the Black of Alexandria (Greek: Παυλος Μελανος; Classical Syriac: ܦܘܠܘܣ ܬܪܝܢܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ‎) was the Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 550 until his deposition in 575.

Theodotus of Antioch

Theodotus, patriarch of Antioch (??–429), in A.D. 420 succeeded Alexander, under whom the long-standing schism at Antioch had been healed, and followed his lead in replacing the honoured name of Chrysostom on the diptychs of the church. He is described by Theodoret, at one time one of his presbyters, as "the pearl of temperance," "adorned with a splendid life and a knowledge of the divine dogmas". Joannes Moschus relates anecdotes illustrative of his meekness when treated rudely by his clergy, and his kindness on a journey in insisting on one of his presbyters exchanging his horse for the patriarch's litter. By his gentleness he brought back the Apollinarians to the church without rigidly insisting on their formal renouncement of their errors. On the real character of Pelagius's teaching becoming known in the East and the consequent withdrawal of the testimony previously given by the synods of Jerusalem and Caesarea to his orthodoxy, Theodotus presided at the final synod held at Antioch (mentioned only by Mercator and Photius, in whose text Theophilus of Alexandria has by an evident error taken Theodotus' place) at which Pelagius was condemned and expelled from Jerusalem and the other holy sites, and he joined with Praylius of Jerusalem in the synodical letters to Rome, stating what had been done. The most probable date of this synod is that given by Hefele: A.D. 424. When in 424 Alexander, founder of the order of the Acoemetae, visited Antioch, Theodotus refused to receive him as being suspected of heretical views. His feeling was not shared by the Antiochenes, who, ever eager after novelty, deserted their own churches and crowded to listen to Alexander's fervid eloquence. Theodotus took part in the ordination of Sisinnius as patriarch of Constantinople, in February 426, and united in the synodical letter addressed by the bishops then assembled to the bishops of Pamphylia against the Massalian heresy. He died in 429.

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