Oblatio puerorum

Children in the Monastic Culture of Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages


  • Jakob Piletič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Theology; University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia




childhood oblation, children, oblates, early monasticism, monastic culture, Basil, Benedict, monastic education


Children have been part of monastic communities since the beginning of the cenobitic monasticism, for various reasons. The child and the monastery are two seemingly incompatible concepts meeting in the now obscure, but once well-established, religious practice of child oblates, which began its rise at the decline of the ancient culture. In this paper we will outline the religious phenomenon of child oblates, children who were ‘abandoned’, ‘given’ or ‘consecrated’ to monasteries by their parents at an early age for various reasons. The Rule of St Benedict, the absolute code of Western monasticism, mentions children in the monastery in several places, especially child oblates, and institutionalises them as a way of consecrated life. What was their position and role in the monastic community? How did this practice develop and spread from the East to the West? What motivated this practice and what were the parents’ motives for doing so? Is it really just an ancient expositio or are the reasons more religious in nature?


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28. 12. 2023

How to Cite

Piletič, Jakob. 2023. “Oblatio Puerorum: Children in the Monastic Culture of Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 25 (2): 175-95. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.25.2.175-195.