Monday, November 03, 2014

Word of the Day -- Monastery

A monastery (plural: monasteries) is the building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in communities or alone (hermits). The monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church or temple, and may also serve as an oratory.

Monasteries may vary greatly in size, comprising a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit, 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.

In English usage, the term "monastery" is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. In modern usage "convent" tends to be applied only to institutions of female monastics (nuns), particularly communities of teaching or nursing Religious Sisters. Historically, a convent denoted a house of friars, (reflecting the Latin), now more commonly called a "friary". Various religions may apply these terms in more specific ways.

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