Life in the Monastery
A way of life followed by devoted religious persons living in the Middle
Ages. Certain individuals found the calling of Christianity very
appealing. They would approach a monastery and beg to be admitted.
There was a two step procedure to become a monk. The description
of these phases follows.
If the monks there were convinced that the person was serious, they would
be admitted as a novice. This was a temporary position of servitude
in which the monk was taught the rules and regulations. They would
take thier first vows.
the novice took all the vows and held them for a period of time designated
by the rules, then he would become a monk. The monk would then be
a peer to all at the monastery and follow all routines. He was never
to leave the monastery without permission.
Mind of the Monk:
These people viewed their life as an imitation of the life of Jesus Christ.
They believed there were two ways to imitate the life of Christ.
The second is the focus of this page. These were the people who called
the actual building, the monastery, home. The Monastery was a self-contained
world run by head monks called Abbots. The Nunery,
or female version, was run by an Abbess.
Two Ways to Imitate
To go into the world and help end sin
This was a choice of some monastic orders. They gave
all their possessions to the poor
and devoted their lives to helping the less fortunate find spiritual happiness
salvation. These were the people who would convert much of Europe
These became the first Christian missionaries.
2. To withdraw from the world
and escape temptation
This was a practice borrowed from Eastern Christians after the Crusades.
Christians locked themselves inside large, communal, and remote buildings.
concentrated all their thoughts and energies upon God and heaven.
The Vows and Duties of Monks and Nuns:
They followed strict routines and took many vows. Among these vows were
chastity, obedience, and silence. These were people who copied
wrote church hymns, studied the Bible, and saved much of the ancient learning
for generations to come. See St. Benedicts Rule below.
Although there were many orders, or types of monasteries, most had similar
beliefs and purposes.
There were certain and specific differences between each different
order, but most followed the Rule of St. Benedict or a version of
This literally means handwriting. This was how books were made in the monastery.
Monks spent hours copying these for discipline and to keep thier minds
occupied. Click on the word for more information and a picture of
a Medieval manuscript.