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During the first four or five centuries after the death of St.
Through the influence of saintly men, Wilfrid, Benedict Biscop, and Dunstan, the Benedictine Rule spread with extraordinary rapidity, and in the North, when once the Easter controversy had been settled and the Roman supremacy acknowledged (Synod of Whitby, 664), it was adopted in most of the monasteries that had been founded by the Celtic missionaries from Iona.
The arguments and authorities for this statement have been admirably marshalled and estimated by Reyner in his "Apostolatus Benedictinorum in Angliâ" (Douai, 1626), and his proofs have been adjudged by Mabillon to amount to demonstration. Honoratus in 375, probably received its first knowledge of the Benedictine Rule from the visit of St. Dismayed by the accounts they had heard of the ferocity of the English, the missionaries had sent their leader back to Rome to implore the pope to allow them to abandon the object of their journey. Not long after their departure, Aygulph, Abbot of Fleury, was called in to restore the discipline and he probably introduced the full Benedictine observance; for when St.
Benedict Biscop visited Lérins later on in the seventh century he received the Benedictine habit and tonsure from the hands of Abbot Aygulph. Gregory of Tours says that at Ainay, in the sixth century, the monks "followed the rules of Basil, Cassian, Caesarius, and other fathers, taking and using whatever seemed proper to the conditions of time and place", and doubtless the same liberty was taken with the Benedictine Rule when it reached them.
At the time of the Reformation there were nine Benedictine houses in Ireland and six in Scotland, besides numerous abbeys of Cistercians.
Benedictine monasticism never took such deep root in the eastern countries of Europe as it had done in the West.