The Religious Vocation and Social Usefulness: Women

John McManners

in Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 1: The Clerical Establishment and its Social Ramifications

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270034
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600685 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Religious Vocation and Social Usefulness: Women

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Membership of monastic or quasi‐monastic institutions, either on a permanent or temporary basis, provided women with work and a vocation in educating children and caring for the sick and poor. Girls of the upper classes were all educated by nuns of the dedicated teaching orders, most prominently the Ursulines, while free education for the less well‐off was increasingly available at ‘secular’ institutes established by female members of the Third Orders of older congregations. The female religious also played a dominant role in the various institutions known as ‘hospitals’, caring not only for the sick, but the whole range of the excluded and condemned, from the destitute to lunatics and prostitutes. The most remarkable and wide‐ranging work in this field was that of the Filles de la Charité, whose vows, simple and renewed annually, were all for activity in the world rather than religious contemplation.

Keywords: education; Filles de la Charité; hospitals; religious orders; women

Chapter.  16615 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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