The word nun is commonly used to refer to a woman who has made a visible commitment to religious life. The Latin nonna, or “tutor,” came to denote a woman under monastic vows. The Latin moniale and the Old English nunne are later versions of the same. In modern usage, the terms nun and sister are used interchangeably in popular speech, yet under church (canon) law there is a distinction between the two groups. Nuns profess solemn vows and generally maintain a contemplative life, while sisters profess simple vows and have an active apostolate often involving education or charitable work. Both solemn and simple vows are made publicly, accepted by a superior, and binding. The definition of nun and ...

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