The movement in general stimulated religion, and in spite of later degeneracy was evidence of a desire for a more vital kind of religion.
Monks cleared forests and built monasteries, setting for the common people an example of industry and morality. They preserved and copied ancient manuscripts, studied the writings of the past, and established monastery schools. Certain of the monks became missionaries to the forest tribes of the North.
Anthony (c. 251-356), the founder of Christian monasticism, was born into a wealthy family in Egypt. After his parents died when he was 18 he became a hermit.