Catholic nuns have been an integral part of the religious community since the beginning of Christianity more than 2,000 years ago. Various orders have come into existence over the centuries, living lives of prayer and charitable service in the worldwide community.
Catholic nuns serve a contemplative life of prayer inside monasteries. They support themselves through endeavours such as selling homemade food items or religious garments and often devote prayers to a specific group or cause.
Catholic nuns belong to several different orders. These include the Benedictines, such as Camaldolese, Trappists and Cistercians, in addition to the Franciscan Poor Clares and Dominicans.
The number of Catholic nuns in the United States, as well as worldwide, has been on a sharp decline in recent decades. In 2003 the number of nuns in the United States had fallen to roughly 75,000, versus nearly 180,000 in 1965.
There is a public misconception that divorced women cannot become Catholic nuns. Indeed a woman who has been divorced may become a nun if she obtains an annulment from the Catholic Church.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta is perhaps the most famous Catholic nun of modern times, initiating hundreds of charitable works. Born Aug. 26, 1910, Mother Teresa passed away Sept. 5, 1997.
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