Women who devote themselves in various religious orders to the practise of a life of perfection. The institution of Sisters dates from the earliest ages of the Church, and very likely women were the first to embrace the religious state for its own sake, without the missionary work and ecclesiastical duties proper to men. There are various kinds of nuns, some taking solemn vows, others simple vows, congregations under pontifical authority, and diocesan communities. In each order there are slight variations as to regulations, constitutions, dress, functions, etc., but the principal objects of all congregations are practically the same: either purely contemplative, seeking personal perfection by close union with God, or partly contemplative and partly active in works of charity, such as the education of youth, the care of the sick, orphans, lepers, lunatics, the wayward, and the aged.

See also