orders of oblates

Latin: oblatus, past participle of offerre, to offer

Communities of men or women, not professed monks or nuns, who have been offered to God, or have dedicated themselves to His service in holy religion. In houses under the Rule of Saint Benedict, children vowed and given by their parents to the monastic life were commonly known as oblates, until the Council of Toledo in 656 forbade their acceptance before the age of 10. Later, oblates denoted laymen or women pensioned off by royal and other patrons upon monasteries or benefices, where they lived as in an almshouse or hospital. With the introduction of lay brethren into monasteries in the 11th century, oblates were the workmen or servants who voluntarily subjected themselves while in the service of the monastery, to religious obedience and observance. Afterward the oblate made a vow of obedience to the abbot, gave himself and his goods to the monastery, and wore a sober secular dress. During the Middle Ages the title oblate was granted to anyone who, for his generosity or special service to the monastery, received the privilege of lay membership with a share in the prayers and good works of the brethren. This title is still given to lay persons who folIow a rule of life under the direction of a religious order.