Religious institute

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A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. [1] Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world". [2]

An institute of consecrated life is an association of faithful in the Catholic Church erected by canon law whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds. They are defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 573–730.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Religious vows promises made by members of religious communities

Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.

Societies of apostolic life resemble religious institutes in that its members live in community, but differ as their members do not take religious vows. They pursue the apostolic purpose of the society to which they belong, while leading a life in common as brothers or sisters and striving for the perfection of charity through observing the society's constitutions. [3] In some of these societies the members assume the evangelical counsels by a bond other than that of religious vows defined in their constitutions. [4]

Society of apostolic life Group of Catholic devotees who live together

A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life, members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."


Since each and every religious institute has its own unique aim, or charism, it has to adhere to a particular way of religious living that is conducive to it, whether "contemplative", "enclosed", mendicant, or apostolic. Thus some religious institutes – especially of nuns who are subject to "Papal Enclosure" – strictly isolate their members from the outside world, of which the "grilles" in their parlours and churches are tangible evidence. [5] Other religious institutes have apostolates that require their members to interact practically with the secular world, such as teaching, medical work, producing religious artworks and texts, designing and making vestments and writing religious instruction books, while maintaining their distinctiveness in communal living. Several founders, in view of their aim, require the members of their institute not only to profess the three Evangelical Counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, but also to vow or promise stability or loyalty, and maybe certain disciplines, such as self-denial, fasting, silence.

Contemplation Profound thinking about something

Contemplation is profound thinking about something. In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.

Enclosed religious orders Christian religious orders separated from the external world

Enclosed religious orders of the Christian churches have solemn vows with a strict separation from the affairs of the external world. The term cloistered is synonymous with enclosed. In the Catholic Church enclosure is regulated by the code of canon law, either the Latin code or the Oriental code, and also by subsidiary legislation. It is practised with a variety of customs according to the nature and charism of the community in question.

Grillwork is decorative grating of metal, wood, stone, or other material used as a screen, divider, barrier, or as a purely decorative element. It may function as a window, either with or without glazing. Grillwork may also refer to grilles, decorative front ends of motor vehicles. Grillwork is sometimes referred to as simply as a grill or as grille, but the latter terms do not convey a decorative quality. These words are all derived from the Old French greille.

Religious orders are subdivided as:

Liturgy of the Hours daily prayers of the Catholic Church

The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office or Work of God or canonical hours, often referred to as the Breviary, is the official set of prayers "marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer". It consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns, readings and other prayers and antiphons. Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public prayer life of the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours also forms the basis of prayer within Christian monasticism.


A mendicant is one who practices mendicancy (begging) and relies chiefly or exclusively on charitable donations to survive. In principle, mendicant religious orders do not own property, either individually or collectively, and members have taken a vow of poverty, in order that all their time and energy could be expended on practicing or preaching and serving the poor. It is a form of asceticism.

Canons regular Roman Catholic priests living in community under a religious rule

Canons regular are canons in the Catholic Church who live in community under a rule. They are often organised into religious orders. They are distinguished from clerics regular, a later form of religious life where members also live life under a rule, in that canons regular emphasise a life lived in community. Examples of religious orders of canons regular include the Crosiers, Premonstratensians, and some Augustinians.

Traditionally, institutes for men are referred to as the "First Orders" and those of women as the "Second Orders". Some religious orders, for example the Franciscans or the Dominicans, have "Third Orders" of associated religious members who live in community and follow a rule (called Third Order Religious or TOR), or lay members who, without living in formal community with the order, have made a private vow or promise to it, such as of perseverance in pious life, hence are not "religious", that is to say, not members of the Consecrated life (often called Third Order Secular, or TOS).

Dominican Order Roman Catholic religious order

The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Innocent III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans.

Consecrated life is a state of life in the Catholic Church lived by believers who wish to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."

In common parlance, all members of male religious institutes are often termed "monks" and those of female religious institutes "nuns", although in a more restricted sense, a monk is one who lives in a monastery under a monastic rule such as that of Saint Benedict and the term "nun" was in the 1917 Code of Canon Law officially reserved for members of a women's religious institute of solemn vows, [6] and is sometimes applied only to those who devote themselves wholly to the contemplative life and belong to one of the enclosed religious orders living and working within the confines of a monastery and reciting the Liturgy of the Hours in community. [7] Religious who are not clergy tend to be called "Brother" or "Sister", while the term "friar" properly refers to a member of a male mendicant order.

Monk religious occupation of Monasteries

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.

Nun Member of a religious community of women

A nun is a member of a religious community of women, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Communities of nuns exist in numerous religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism.

Monastery complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monks or nuns

A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school, and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge, or a brewery.

Priests in vows retain their usual title of "Father", and "Reverend Father". With a few exceptions, all men in vows who are not priests and would therefore not be addressed as "Father" are addressed as "Brother". Women religious are addressed as "Sister". The 1917 Code of Canon Law reserved the term "nun" (Latin: monialis) for women religious who took solemn vows or who, while being allowed in some places to take simple vows, belonged to institutes whose vows were normally solemn. [8] It used the word "sister" (Latin: soror) exclusively for members of institutes for women that it classified as "congregations"; and for "nuns" and "sisters" jointly it used the Latin word religiosae (women religious). The current Code of Canon Law has dropped those distinctions. Some women superiors are properly addressed as "Mother" or "Reverend Mother". Benedictines have traditionally used the form of address "Dom" for men and "Dame" for solemnly professed nuns.

Historically, what are now called religious institutes were distinguished as either religious orders or religious congregations. The Church no longer makes that distinction and applies to all such institutes the single name "religious institute" and the same rules of canon law. [9] While solemn vows once meant those taken in what was called a religious order, and although the distinction between solemn and simple vows is still maintained, [10] "today, in order to know when a vow is solemn it will be necessary to refer to the proper law of the institutes of consecrated life." [11] "Religious order" and "religious institute" tend indeed to be used now as synonyms, and canon lawyer Nicholas Cafardi, commenting on the fact that the canonical term is "religious institute", can write that "religious order" is a colloquialism. [12]

Admission and religious vows

Admittance to a religious institute is regulated not only by Church law and the religious Rule it has adopted but also by its own norms. Broadly speaking, after a lengthy period spanning postulancy, aspirancy and novitiate and whilst in "temporary vows" to test their vocation with a particular institute, candidates wishing to be admitted permanently are required to make a public profession of the Evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience by means of a vow (which may be either simple or solemn) binding in Church law. One of the effects of this vow is that members of a religious institute are no longer free to marry; and should they subsequently want to leave the institute after permanent profession, they would have to seek a papal indult of dispensation from their vow. The benefits of the profession are of a spiritual nature. [13]

After completion of the novitiate, members of religious institute make religious profession, which is "a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels" of chastity, poverty and obedience. [14] A vow is classified as public if a legitimate superior accepts it in the name of the Church, as happens when one joins a religious institute. In making their religious profession, they are "incorporated into the institute, with the rights and duties defined by law", and "through the ministry of the Church they are consecrated to God". [14]

Religious profession can be temporary or perpetual: "Temporary profession is to be made for the period defined by the institute's own law. This period may not be less than three years nor longer than six years." [15]

Typically, members of Religious Institutes either take vows of evangelical chastity, poverty and obedience (the "Evangelical Counsels") to lead a life in imitation of Christ Jesus, or, those following the Rule of St Benedict, the vows of obedience, stability (that is, to remain with this particular community till death and not seek to move to another), and "conversion of life" which implicitly includes the counsels of chastity and evangelical poverty. Some institutes take additional vows (a "fourth vow" is typical), specifying some particular work or defining condition of their way of life (e.g., the Jesuit vow to undertake any mission upon which they are sent by the Pope; the Missionaries of Charity vow to serve always the poorest of the poor).

Daily living in religious institutes is regulated by Church law as well as the particular religious rule they have adopted and their own constitutions and customaries. Their respective timetables ("horarium") allocate due time to communal prayer, private prayer, spiritual reading, work, meals, communal recreation, sleep, and fixes any hours during which stricter silence is to be observed, in accordance with their own institute's charism.

The traditional distinction between simple and solemn vows [16] no longer has any canonical effect. Solemn vows once meant those taken in what was called a religious order. "Today, in order to know when a vow is solemn it will be necessary to refer to the proper law of the institutes of consecrated life." [17]

Religious rules, constitutions and statutes

Religious institutes generally follow one of the four great religious rules: Rule of St Basil, Rule of St. Benedict, Rule of St. Augustine, and the Rule of St. Francis. [18] The Rule of St Basil, one of the earliest rules for Christian religious life, is followed by monastic communities of Byzantine tradition. Western monastics (Benedictines, Trappists, Cistercians, etc.) observe the Rule of St Benedict, a collection of precepts for what is called contemplative religious life. The Rule of St Augustine stresses self-denial, moderation, and care for those in need.

Jesuits follow what is called not a Rule, but the Constitutions composed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, which laid aside traditional practices such as chanting the liturgy in favour of greater adaptability and mobility under a more authoritarian regime. [19] [20] Other institutes combine a Rule with Constitutions that give more precise indications for the life of the members. Thus the Capuchin Constitutions of 1536 are added to the Rule of St. Francis [21] In addition to the more fundamental provisions of the Rule or Constitutions, religious institutes have statutes that are more easily subject to change. [22]

Foundation and approval

Religious institutes normally begin as an association formed, with the consent of the diocesan bishop, for the purpose of becoming a religious institute. After time has provided proof of the rectitude, seriousness and durability of the new association, the bishop, having consulted the Holy See, may formally set it up as a religious institute under his own jurisdiction. [23] Later, when it has grown in numbers, perhaps extending also into other dioceses, and further proved its worth, the Holy See may grant it formal approval, bringing it under the Holy See's responsibility, rather than that of the Bishops of the dioceses where it is present. [24] For the good of such institutes and to provide for the needs of their apostolate, the Holy See may exempt them from the governance of the local Bishops, bringing them entirely under the authority of the Holy See itself or of someone else. [25] In some respects, for example public liturgical practice, they always remain under the local bishop's supervision.


First millennium

Roots in Egypt and Syriac- and Greek-speaking East

From the earliest times there were probably individual hermits who lived a life in isolation in imitation of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. They have left no confirmed archaeological traces and only hints in the written record. Communities of virgins who had consecrated themselves to Christ are found at least as far back as the 2nd century. [26] There were also individual ascetics, known as the "devout", who usually lived not in the deserts but on the edge of inhabited places, still remaining in the world but practicing asceticism and striving for union with God, although extreme ascetism such as encratism was regarded as suspect by the Church. [27]

Paul of Thebes (fl. 3rd century), commemorated in the writings of St Jerome, is regarded as the first Christian hermit in Egypt, his withdrawal into the desert apparently having been prompted by the persecution of the Christians at the time. Saint Anthony was the first to leave the world to live in the desert for specifically spiritual reasons; St Athanasius speaks of him as an anchorite. In upper Egypt, sometime around 323, Saint Pachomius decided to organize his disciples into a form of community in which they lived in individual huts or rooms (cellula in Latin), but worked, ate, and worshipped in shared space. Guidelines for daily life were drawn up (a monastic 'rule'); and several monasteries were founded, nine for men and two for women. This method of monastic organization is called cenobitic or "community-based". Towards the end of his life St Pachomius was therefore not only the abbot of a monastery but also the head of a whole group of monasteries.

The Greeks (e.g. St Basil the Great of Cappadocian Caesarea) and the Syriac-speaking east had their own monastic traditions (e.g. St Ephrem of Nisibis and Edessa).


The earliest forms of monasticism in Western Europe involved figures such as Martin of Tours, who after serving in a Roman legion converted to Christianity and established a hermitage near Milan. He then moved on to Poitiers, where a community gathered around his hermitage. In 372 he was called to become Bishop of Tours, and established a monastery at Marmoutiers on the opposite bank of the Loire River. His monastery was laid out as a colony of hermits rather than as a single integrated community.

John Cassian began his monastic career at a monastery in Palestine and Egypt around 385 to study monastic practice there. In Egypt he had been attracted to the isolated life of hermits, which he considered the highest form of monasticism, yet the monasteries he founded were all organized monastic communities. About 410 he established two monasteries near Marseilles, one for men, one for women. In time these attracted a total of 5,000 monks and nuns. Most significant for the future development of monasticism were Cassian's Institutes, which provided a guide for monastic life and his Conferences, a collection of spiritual reflections.

Honoratus of Marseilles was a wealthy Gallo-Roman aristocrat, who after a pilgrimage to Egypt, founded the Monastery of Lérins, on an island lying off the modern city of Cannes. Lérins became, in time, a center of monastic culture and learning, and many later monks and bishops would pass through Lérins in the early stages of their career.


The anonymous Rule of the Master (Regula magistri), was written somewhere south of Rome around 500. The rule adds administrative elements not found in earlier rules, defining the activities of the monastery, its officers, and their responsibilities in great detail.

Benedict of Nursia was educated in Rome but soon sought the life of a hermit in a cave at Subiaco, outside the city. He then attracted followers with whom he founded the monastery of Monte Cassino around 520, between Rome and Naples. His Rule is shorter than the Master's. It became by the 9th century the standard monastic rule in Western Europe. [28]


The earliest Monastic settlements in Ireland emerged at the end of the 5th century. The first identifiable founder of a monastery was Saint Brigid of Kildare, who ranked with Saint Patrick as a major figure of the Irish church. The monastery at Kildare was a double monastery, with both men and women ruled by the Abbess, a pattern found in many other monastic foundations.

Commonly, Irish monasteries were established by grants of land to an abbot or abbess, who came from a local noble family. The monastery became the spiritual focus of the tribe or kin group. Irish monastic rules specify a stern life of prayer and discipline in which prayer, poverty, and obedience are the central themes. However Irish monks read even secular Latin texts with an enthusiasm that their contemporaries on the continent lacked. By the end of the 7th century, Irish monastic schools were attracting students from England and from Europe.

Irish monasticism spread widely, first to Scotland and Northern England, then to Gaul and Italy. Saint Columba and his followers established monasteries at Bangor, on the northeastern coast of Ireland, at Iona in Scotland, and at Lindisfarne, in Northumbria. Saint Columbanus, an abbot from a Leinster noble family, travelled to Gaul in the late 6th century with twelve companions. He and his followers spread the Irish model of monastic institutions established by noble families to the continent. A whole series of new rural monastic foundations on great rural estates under Irish influence sprang up, starting with St. Columbanus's foundations of Fontaines and Luxeuil, sponsored by the Frankish King Childebert II. After Childebert's death St. Columbanus travelled east to Metz, where Theudebert II allowed him to establish a new monastery among the semi-pagan Alemanni in what is now Switzerland. One of St. Columbanus's followers founded the monastery of St. Gall on the shores of Lake Constance, while St. Columbanus continued onward across the Alps to the kingdom of the Lombards in Italy. There King Agilulf and his wife Theodolinda granted St. Columbanus land in the mountains between Genoa and Milan, where he established the monastery of Bobbio.

Developments around 1100

A monastic revival already begun in the 10th century with the Cluniac reform, which organized into an order with common governance the monasteries following the Benedictine Rule that chose to join it or were founded by it, [29] continued with the foundation in 1084 of the Carthusian monasteries, which combined the hermit life with that of the cloister, each monk having his own hermitage, coming together only for the liturgy and an occasional meal, and having no contact with the outside world, and the foundation a few years later of the Cistercians, a foundation that seemed destined to fail until in 1113 a band of 30 young men of the noblest families of Burgundy arrived, led by Bernard of Clairvaux, then 23 years old, who was to prove a dominating figure in the life of Western Europe for forty years. This was followed by the foundation in 1120 of the Canons Regular of Prémontré, not monks but clergy devoted to ascetism, study and pastoral care. [30] These aggregations of monasteries marked a departure from the previously existing arrangement whereby each monastery was totally independent and could decide what rule to follow. It also prepared the way for the quite different religious orders of the 13th century. [31]

13th century

The 13th century saw the founding and rapid spread of the Dominicans in 1216 and the Franciscans in 1210, two of the principal mendicant orders, who supported themselves not, as the monasteries did, by rent on landed property, but by work and the charitable aid of others. [32] Both these institutes had vows of poverty but, while for the Franciscans poverty was an aim in itself, the Dominicans, treating poverty as a means or instrument, were allowed to own their churches and convents. [33] Similar institutes that appeared at about the same time were the Augustinians, Carmelites and Servites. While the monasteries had chosen situations in the remote countryside, these new institutes, which aimed at least as much at evangelizing others as at sanctifying their own members, had their houses in the cities and towns. [31]

16th century and later

By the constitution Inter cetera of 20 January 1521, Pope Leo X appointed a rule for tertiaries with simple vows. Under this rule, enclosure was optional, enabling non-enclosed followers of the rule to engage in various works of charity not allowed to enclosed religious. [34] In 1566 and 1568, Pope Pius V rejected this class of institute, but they continued to exist and even increased in number. After at first being merely tolerated, they afterwards obtained approval, [34] finally gaining on 8 December 1900 recognition as religious by Pope Leo XIII. [35] Their lives were oriented not to the ancient monastic way of life, but more to social service and to evangelization, both in Europe and in mission areas. The number of these "congregations" (not "orders") increased further in the upheavals brought by the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic invasions of other Catholic countries, depriving thousands of monks and nuns of the income that their communities held because of inheritances and forcing them to find a new way of living their religious life.

Examples of such institutes are the Claretians, La Salle Brothers, Passionists, Redemptorists, and Vincentians.

A special case happened in 1540. Ignatius of Loyola obtained authorization for the members of the Society of Jesus to be divided into professed with solemn vows and coadjutors with dispensable simple vows. [36] The novelty was found in the nature of these simple vows, since they constituted the Jesuit coadjutors as religious in the true and proper sense of the word, with the consequent privileges and exemption of regulars, including them being a diriment impediment to matrimony, etc. [37] In theory, the recognition as religious for simple vows had universal validity, but in practice, the Roman Curia considered it an exclusive privilege to the Society of Jesus. [38] Had this recognition been accepted with universal validity, religious with simple vows wouldn't have needed to wait until the 20th century to be recognized as regulars.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

20th century

The 1917 Code of Canon Law reserved the name "religious order" for institutes in which the vows were solemn, and used the term "religious congregation" or simply "congregation" for those with simple vows. The members of a religious order for men were called "regulars", those belonging to a religious congregation were simply "religious", a term that applied also to regulars. For women, those with simple vows were simply "sisters", with the term "nun" reserved in canon law for those who belonged to an institute of solemn vows, even if in some localities they were allowed to take simple vows instead. [39]

The same Code also abolished the distinction according to which solemn vows, unlike simple vows, were indissoluble. It recognized no totally indispensable religious vows and thereby abrogated for the Latin Church the special consecration that distinguished "orders" (institutes with solemn vows) from "congregations" (institutes with simple vows), while keeping some juridical distinctions between the two classes.

Even these remaining juridical distinctions were abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which distinguishes solemn from simple vows but does not divide religious into categories on that basis.

By then a new form of institutes of consecrated life had emerged alongside that of religious institutes: in 1947 Pope Pius XII recognized secular institutes as a form in which Christians profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience while living in the world. [2]


In 1972, the French Jesuit Raymond Hostie published his study Vie et mort des ordres religieux: Approaches psychosociologiques (Paris. Desclée de Brouwer), an English translation of which appeared in 1983 as The Life and Death of Religious Orders (Washington: CARA). Hostie argued that the life of a religious institute passes through successive stages: 10–20 years of gestation, 20–40 years of consolidation, a century or so of expansion, another century or so of stabilization, 50–100 years of decline, followed by death, even if death is not officially declared until later. In this view, a religious institute lasts 250–350 years before being replaced by another religious institute with a similar life-span. Hostie recognized that there are exceptions: Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and some others have lasted longer, either because transformed from what they were originally or because of the prestige of their founders. In 2015, Giancarlo Rocca suggested that attention should be given not so much to the life-span of individual religious institutes, as to the duration of what Rocca called "religious institutions", corresponding to the juridical categories of monastics, canons, mendicant orders, clerks regular, priestly societies, religious congregations, secular institutes. The religious institutes that have disappeared since 1960 have mostly been congregations. This class of institutes with simple vows and a strong emphasis on apostolate arose shortly before the French Revolution. They modernized the Church, the State, and religious life itself. Older institutes adopted some of their features, especially in the fields of education and health care, areas, however, that the State has now almost entirely taken over. This suggests that the life-span of a religious institute is largely determined by the point at which it comes into being within the life cycle of the "religious institution" to which it belongs. "Religious institutions" themselves do not necessarily disappear altogether with time, but they lose importance, as happened to monasticism, which is no longer the force it was in the Middle Ages before the mendicant orders eclipsed it. [40]

See also

Related Research Articles

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.

Christian monasticism

Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of individuals who live ascetic and typically cloistered lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. It began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules and, in modern times, the Canon law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). The word monk originated from the Greek monachos "monk", itself from monos meaning "alone".

Religious order (Catholic) Type of religious community in the Roman Catholic Church characterised by its members professing solemn vows

In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a type of religious community characterised by its members professing solemn vows. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, they are classed as a type of religious institute.

In Catholic canon law, a solemn vow is a vow that the Church has recognized as such.

The term religious profession is used in many western-rite Christian denominations to refer to the solemn admission of men or women into a religious order by means of public vows.

In Christian monasticism, an oblate is a person who is specifically dedicated to God or to God's service.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is the congregation of the Roman Curia with competency over everything which concerns Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.

A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.

A religious congregation is a type of religious institute in the Catholic Church. They are legally distinguished from religious orders — the other major type of religious institute — in that members take simple vows, whereas members of religious orders take solemn vows.

Clerics regular are priests (clerics) who are members of a religious order under a rule of life (regular). Clerics regular differ from canons regular in that they devote themselves more to pastoral care, in place of an obligation to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in common, and have fewer penitential observances in their rule of life.

The conditions for the canonical erection of a house of religious are indicated clearly and succinctly in canons 608-611 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

A religious brother is a member of a Christian religious institute or religious order who commits himself to following Christ in consecrated life of the Church, usually by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He is a layman, in the sense of not being ordained as a deacon or priest, and usually lives in a religious community and works in a ministry appropriate to his capabilities. A brother might practice any secular occupation. The term "brother" is used as he is expected to be as a brother to others. Brothers are members of a variety of religious communities, which may be contemplative, monastic, or apostolic in character. Some religious institutes are composed only of brothers; others are so-called "mixed" communities that are made up of brothers and clerics.

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.

Religious sister (Catholic)

A religious sister in the Catholic Church is a woman who has taken public vows in a religious institute dedicated to apostolic works, as distinguished from a nun who lives a cloistered monastic life dedicated to prayer. Both nuns and sisters use the term "sister" as a form of address.


  1. Code of Canon Law, canon 607 § 2|The full quote: "a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common"
  2. 1 2 Code of Canon Law, canon 710
  3. Code of Canon Law, canon 731 § 1
  4. Code of Canon Law, canon 731 § 2
  5. Code of Canon Law, canon 667
  6. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 488, 7
  7. Code of Canon Law, canon 667
  8. Code of Canon Law of 1917, canon 488
  9. Code of Canon Law, canons 607-709
  10. Code of Canon Law, canon 1192 §2
  11. E. Caparros, M. Thériault, J. Thorne (editors), Code of Canon Law Annotated (Wilson & Lafleur, Montréal 1993 ISBN   2-891272-32-3), p. 745
  12. Article published in Theological Exploration, vol. 2. no. 1 of Duquesne University and in Law Review of University of Toledo, vol 33
  13. cf. Dom Columba Marmion, Christ the Ideal of the Monk, ch. VI.
  14. 1 2 "Code of Canon Law, canon 654" . Retrieved 2011-10-12.
  15. "Code of Canon Law, canon 655" . Retrieved 2011-10-12.
  16. "Code of Canon Law, canon 1192 §2" . Retrieved 2011-10-12. It is solemn if it is recognised by the Church as such; otherwise, it is simple.
  17. E. Caparros, M. Thériault, J. Thorne (editors), Code of Canon Law Annotated (Wilson & Lafleur, Montréal 1993 ISBN   2-89127-232-3), p. 745
  18. "Religious life". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1911.
  19. Edward A. Ryan, "The Jesuit Constitutions" in Encyclopædia Britannica
  20. John A. Hardon, "History of Religious Life: St Ignatius of Loyola and the Society of Jesus
  21. Texts at Rule and Constitutions of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
  22. Jason Gray, "Canonical Content of the Proper Law of an Institute"
  23. Code of Canon Law, canon 579
  24. Code of Canon Law, canon 589
  25. Code of Canon Law, canon 591
  26. Carolyn A. Osiek, David L. Balch, The Families in the New Testament World (Westminster John Knox Press 1997 ISBN   978-0-66425546-6), p. 152
  27. 1 Timothy 4:1-5
  28. Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner's Art Through the Ages (Cengage Learning 2009 ISBN   978-0-495-57360-9), vol. 1, p. 298
  29. Philip Hughes, A History of the Church (Sheed and Ward 1935), vol. 2, pp. 206-207
  30. Philip Hughes, A History of the Church (Sheed and Ward 1935), vol. 2, pp. 258-266
  31. 1 2 Religious Orders – Historical Development
  32. Encyclopædia Britannica, "Mendicant"
  33. Anne Derbes, Mark Sidona, The Cambridge Companion to Giotto (Cambridge University Press 2003 ISBN   978-0-521-77007-1), p. 105
  34. 1 2 Arthur Vermeersch, "Religious Life" in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1911), vol. 12. Archived 2012-01-15 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 18 July 2011
  35. Pope Leo XIII's Constitution "Conditae a Christo," 8 December 1900
  36. Karl Rahner, Sacramentum Mundi, article "Religious Orders"
  37. Quanto fructuosius (1-2-1583) and Ascendente Domino (5-24-1584).
  38. History of Religious Life, Vol. 3, Jesús Álvarez Gómez, CMF, 1990 (Spanish)
  39. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 488
  40. Giancarlo Rocca, "Il ciclo della vita: Qual è la durata di un istituto religioso?" in L'Osservatore Romano, 12 March 2015, p. 7]