Double monastery

Double monastery

A double monastery is an institution combining a separate monastery for monks and an abbey for nuns. Examples include Coldingham Monastery in Scotland, and Einsiedeln Abbey and Fahr Abbey in Switzerland, controlled by the abbot of Einsiedeln. Whilst the monks and nuns lived in separate buildings they were usually united in the Abbess as head of the entire household and would have chanted the Liturgy of the Hours and attended Mass together in the Chapel. Either an abbess or an abbot would normally have control over both houses, and it was only in exceptional circumstances that each would have its own superior. Double monasteries were common in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England during the early medieval period.

Double monasteries were forbidden by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, though it took many years for the decree to be enforced. During the Middle Ages, in fact, a number of religious houses were established on this pattern, both among Benedictines and possibly the Dominicans. The Bridgittines were consciously founded using this form of community.

Less frequently, the term is used to describe one monastery based on two sites like the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory.


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