(SCHENUDI, SCHNUDI, SINUTHIUS).
A Coptic abbot. The years 332-33-34 and 350 are mentioned as the date of his birth, and the years 451-52 and 466 as the date of his death, all authors agreeing that he lived about 118 years. He was born at Schenalolet in the district of Akhim, and died in his monastery, which still exists under the name of Deir-el-Abiad (White Monastery), near the ruins of the village of Atripe. In 371, he became a monk at this large double monastery, which was then ruled by his uncle Bgol, whom he succeeded as abbot in 388. St. Cyril of Alexandria, whom he accompanied to the Council of Ephesus in 431, appointed him archimandrite during that council. The Copts honour him as a saint and as the Father of the Coptic Church.
The monastic rule of Pachomius underwent various modifications and was made more severe under the abbey of Bgol and Schenute. Perhaps the most important modification was the introduction of vows into the monastic life. Each monk made a solemn profession in the church, that he would faithfully observe the rule of the monastery. The formula of this vow, as prescribed by Schenute, was published by Leipoldt (loc. cit. below p. 107), and by Leclercq in Dict. d'Archéologie chrét." s. v. Cénobitisme. It is as follows: "I vow [ homologein ] before God in His holy place as the word of my tongue is my witness : I shall never sully my body in any way; I shall not steal; I shall not take false oaths ; I shall not lie; I shall not do evil secretly. If I transgress what I have sworn [ homologein ] I shall not enter the kingdom of heaven, for I know that God before whom I pronounce the formula of this pledge [ diatheke ] will thrust me body and soul into hell-fire, for I shall have trangressed the formula of the pledge [ diatheke ] have pronounced" (op. cit.) It is the first monastic vow of which we have any knowledge. Another modification of the rule of Pachomius was a combination of the cenobitic with the anchoretic life. Schenute was the most influential monastic head and perhaps the most powerful man in Egypt during his time. Besa, his biographer and successor as Abbot of Atripe, states that at one time he ruled over 2200 monks and 1800 nuns. But Schenute was too self-conscious, passionate, and tyrannical, his rule too severe, and his enforcement of it too violent, to make his influence wholesome and lasting. Outside of Egypt he remained unknown; neither Latin nor Greek writers make any mention of him. Philosophy he considered useless, and his whole knowledge of theology consisted in the repetition of the current ecclesiastical formulas. Extremely austere with himself, he required the same austerity of his disciples, and rigidly enforced an absolute submission to his authority. His literary works, written in the Sahidic language, consist chiefly of letters to monks and nuns, spiritual exhortations, and some very forcible sermons. They are being edited with a Latin translation by Leipoldt, in "Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium" (Paris, 1906) and, with a French translation, by Amélineau in the same publication (Paris, 1907-.)
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online