A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers or religious sisters (nuns); or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion.
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; other terms used are abbey, priory etc. In historical usage they are often interchangeable, with "convent" especially likely to be used for a friary.
Technically, a "monastery" or "nunnery" is a community of monastics, whereas a "friary" or "convent" is a community of mendicants, 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.
This confusion reduces outside Western Christianity, where in English all houses of male religious in Eastern Orthodoxy and Buddhism are normally called "monasteries" and of female religious "convents".
- See Etym on line
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Convent". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Carmelite Monastery of the Sacred Hearts —- an example of a modern-day convent
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Convent". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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