Monachism, or Monasticism, is an institution in which individuals devote themselves, apart from others, to the cultivation of spiritual contemplation and religious duties, and which has constituted a marked feature in Pre-Christian Jewish asceticism, and in Buddhism as well as in Christianity; in the Church it developed from the practice of living in solitude in the 2nd century, and received its distinctive note when the vow of obedience to a superior was added to the hermit's personal vows of poverty and chastity; the movement of St. Benedict in the 6th century stamped its permanent form on Western Monasticism, and that of St. Francis in the 12th gave it a more comprehensive range, entrusting the care of the poor, the sick, the ignorant, &c., to the hitherto self-centred monks and nuns; during the Middle Ages the monasteries were centres of learning, and their work in copying and preserving both sacred and secular literature has been invaluable; English Monachism was swept away at the Reformation; in France at the Revolution; and later in Spain, Portugal, and Italy it has been suppressed; brotherhoods and sisterhoods have sprung up in the Protestant churches of Germany and England, but in all of them the vows taken are revocable.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

Momus * Monaco
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Molina, Luis
Molinos, Miguel de
Moltke, Count von
Mommsen, Theodor
Monboddo, James Burnett, Lord
Moncreiff, Sir Henry Wellwood
Moncreiff, James W., Lord
Moncreiff, Sir Henry W.
Moncreiff, James
Mond, Ludwig