John Cassian (d. after 345) was one of the key figures who brought traditions of desert monasticism to the Latin West. He grew up in what today is Romania and became a monk in Bethlehem and then moved to Egypt, settling at the monastery of Scetis, where he became a disciple of Evagrius Ponticus. In the wake of the Origenist Controversy, he left Egypt and settled in southern France, in the port city of Massilia (modern Marseilles), where he composed in Latin two profoundly influential works, the Institutes and the Conferences. This chapter surveys Cassian’s career and introduces his key works and theological themes, especially the monastic search for purity of heart and the monastic practice of unceasing prayer.
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