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A Beguine convent in Amsterdam.

A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion. In modern English usage, "convent" almost invariably refers to a community of women, while "monastery," "priory" or "friary" are used for men; but in historical usage they are often interchangeable.

Technically, a "monastery" is a community of monastics, whereas a "convent" is a community of mendicants ("friary" specifying a male community specifically), and a "canonry" a community of canons [regular]. The terms "abbey" and "priory" can be applied to both monasteries and canonries and distinguish those headed by an Abbot from the lesser dependent houses headed by a Prior.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CONVENT (Lat. conventus, from convenire, to come together), a term applied to an association of persons secluded from the world and devoted to a religious life, and hence to the building in which they live, a monastery or (more particularly) nunnery. The diminution "conventicle" (conventiculum), generally used in a contemptuous sense as implying sectarianism, secrecy or illegality, is applied to the meetings or meeting-places of religious or other dissenting bodies.


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