In addition to practical knowledge, the monasteries were also the last refuge for scholarly knowledge. One of the principal occupations of monks was copying ancient manuscripts. The practice started in the sixth century at the Vivarium monastery in Italy, whose library was endowed by the Roman Senator Cassiodorus. Thereafter, a primary role of that monastery was to copy manuscripts, ensuring the continuation of Western knowledge, while preserving literacy amongst its initiates. The practice spread to other monasteries until most had established “scriptoria”—rooms where ancient literature was transcribed by monks.