One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A woman who has taken the vows of a religious order but is not obliged to take part in the full cycle of liturgy and is employed in ancillary or manual work.
- ‘It was intended for nuns (who followed the Benedictine rule), Augustinian canons, lay brothers, observing a version of the Cistercian rule, and lay sisters.’
- ‘At the same time, however, the lay sisters were recognized as being much holier than the choir nuns, and stories abounded of the power of the lay sisters ' prayers.’
- ‘Some, moreover, including the Gilbertines, and Cistercian houses for women, recruited lay sisters.’
- ‘She had no money for the dowry that convents demanded, but she offered herself as a lay sister - that is, one of the nuns who performs all the heavy work of the house.’
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