lay brothers


  • Greek: laikos, of or from the peopIe


Religious occupied solely with the secular affairs of a monastery or friary, as distinct from the choir monks or brothers. They originated probably in Italy early in the 11th century when it became necessary to differentiate between ecclesiastics and their non-clerical brethren, who were ignorant of Latin and therefore incapable of performing choir duties or attaining to Holy Orders. They looked after the sacristy, buildings, farms, household cares, and visitors, thus affording the choir religious more time for the Office and study, while all classes of persons might be enabled to embrace religion, taking the usual vows. They are now found in most religious orders. They were often artists and skilled craftsmen, contributed greatly to the prosperity of the order, and whenever possible they rendered real apostolic services as Saint Rodriguez with Saint Peter Claver. A slight difference in habit usually distinguishes them from the choir monks.

MLA Citation

  • “lay brothers”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 July 2012. Web. 23 February 2019. <>