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St. Maurice's Abbey bell-tower

The practice of perpetual prayer (Latin: laus perennis) was inaugurated by the archimandrite Alexander (died about 430), the founder of the monastic Acoemetae or "vigil-keepers".

Laus perennis was imported to Western Europe at Agaunum, where it was carried on, day and night, by several choirs, or turmae, who succeeded each other in the recitation of the divine office, so that prayer went on without cessation. Called the Akoimetoi ("Sleepless Ones"), these monks prayed "a monastic round of twenty-four offices to fill every hour."[1] The inauguration of laus perennis at Agaunum circa 522 was the occasion of a solemn ceremony, and of a sermon by St. Avitus which survives.[2] The "custom of Agaunum", as it came to be called, spread over Gaul, to Lyons, Châlons, the Abbey of Saint Denis, to Luxeuil, Saint-Germain at Paris, Saint Medard at Soissons, to Saint-Riquier, and was taken up by the monks of Remiremont Abbey and Laon Abbey, though the Abbey of Agaunum had ceased to practice it from the beginning of the ninth century.[3]


  1. ^ Barbara H. Rosenwein, "Perennial Prayer at Agaune", in Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein eds., Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society 37, 41-42. Cornell Univ. Press 2000. Google Books search, retrieved January 7, 2010.
  2. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: "Agaunum" On-line text.
  3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: "Acometae" On-line text.
  • See also Kallistos Ware, The Inner Kingdom, pp. 75 ff. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000. Google Books search, retrieved January 7, 2010.


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