Definition of lay sister in US English:

lay sister

noun

  • 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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was intended for nuns (who followed the Benedictine rule), Augustinian canons, lay brothers, observing a version of the Cistercian rule, and lay sisters.’