Convent

A convent is a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, monks or nuns; or the building used by the community, particularly in the Catholic Church, Lutheran churches, and the Anglican Communion.

Etymology and usage

The term "convent" derives via Old French from Latin conventus, perfect participle of the verb convenio, meaning to convene, to come together. The original reference was to the gathering of mendicants who spent much of their time travelling. Technically, a “monastery" or "nunnery" is a secluded community of monastics, whereas a "friary" or "convent" is a community of mendicants (which, by contrast, might be located in a city), and a "canonry" a community of canons regular. The terms “abbey" and “priory" can be applied to both monasteries and canonries; an abbey is headed by an Abbot, and a priory is a lesser dependent house headed by a Prior. In the Middle Ages, convents often provided to women a way to excel, as they were considered inferior to men. In convents, women were educated and were able to write books and publish works on gardening or musicology. The Abbess of a convent was often also involved in decisions of secular life and interacted with politicians and businessmen.

In English usage since about the 19th century the term "convent" almost invariably refers to a community of women, while "monastery" and "friary" are used for men. In historical usage they are often interchangeable, with "convent" especially likely to be used for a friary. When applied to religious houses in Eastern Orthodoxy and Buddhism, English refers to all houses of male religious as "monasteries" and of female religious "convents".

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See also


This page was last updated at 2022-11-13 12:27 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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