Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monks In the Monastery and Nuns in a Convent

History of a Monastery:

Monastery of the Middle Ages
In 529AD St. Benedict established the Benedictine Rule. The very first Monastery in the Middle ages was established based on the Benedictine Rule. Different orders of Monks were also established during the middle ages. There were the Benedictines, Cistercians, and the Carthusians. The rules, restrictions, and details of the different monastic religions seperated them from one another. Slowly over a few centuries the monasteries of the middle ages dissolved to only a few.

Monastery Community:
Many Monasteries and Convents were used as hospitals for the sick.
Each monastery was like its own community. The monks that lived in the communities didn't need to travel beyond the walls for any necessities. Over time the monastery would grow and the people living inside looked like a small town. They grew to be very wealthy and held some power. A monastery also had its own form of a feudal pyramid. At the top were the Pope, then the Bishop, Arch Bishop, Arch Deacon, then the Abbot. The Abbots had some form of obligation to a higher authority or Lord. After the Abbots you have the Prior, who ran the monastery when the Abbot was absent, the Dean and then finally the Monks. Any Monks in the monastery could move to a higher position.

Monks in the Monastery
Monks were very clean shaven men. A monk was distuinguished by their partly shaven hair. They were bald except for a strip of hair around their head, called a Tonsure. The monks Tonsure's indicated that they had recieve clerical status. They spent the day worshipping, reading their sacred text, and laboring. Each day was divided into eight parts, or sacred offices. An average day began with worship in side the church and ended with worship or service inside the monastery church. The began the day as early as two o' clock in the morning, and finished around sun set. Many hours of the day were spent in meditation, prayer, and reading the sacred text. Aside from the spiritual side of the monastery, Monks did a lot of labor and working with their hands. Such as, washing clothes, cooking, raising grain and other necessary supplies needed to keep the monastery running.

Nuns in a Convent:
A Nun in the middle ages spent a life of dedication. They were required to make three vows.
1. The Vow of Poverty
2. The Vow of Chastity
3. The Vow of Obediance

These vows were the basis of the life of a Nun in the middle ages. They gave up a life of worldly things and spent a life of strict rules and routines in a midevil Convent or Nunnery. Nuns were also established in 529AD by St. Benedict and the Benedictine rule. Many orders of Nuns were established during that period of time. There were the Benedictine Nuns, Dominican Nuns, Fransiscan Nuns, Ursaline Nuns, Augustine Nuns, Carmelite Nuns, Daughters of St. Paul., and a few others. The women of the middle ages were not provided with education. Becoming a Nun provided the only source of education to women. Their education was mainly focused on the church Hierarchy.

Daily life of a Nun:
A Nun spent most of the day in prayer and meditation much like a Monk. Aside from the prayer and meditation the Nuns of a convent also spent some time doing manual work for the monasteries, such as cooking, washing clothes, spinning or embroidery. The day centered around the Book of Hours. The Book of Hours was the main prayer book, and it was divided into eight parts. Each hour or part had a specific name. They started with the Laud around five in the morning. The Matins which was recited a little before the Lauds around two in the morning. After that they had the Prime as six in the morning, Terce at nine in the morning, Sext at noon, Nones at three in the afternoon, Vespers which was four to five PM, and Compline at six. Any work was completely stopped for these times of prayer.

The Book of Hours

Blog by: Allison Bradburn and Lauren Lowe

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