In houses of nuns, in houses of canons: A liturgical dimension to double monasteries

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Liturgical celebration tied male clergy to houses of religious women in a wide variety of so-called double monasteries. St Gilbert founded the Order of Sempringham to provide for women's religious vocation, but like other contemporary new orders, the Gilbertines needed a population of male religious to assist the nuns in their vocations. St Gilbert, and ultimately his successors, placed the nuns under the Rule of St Benedict and added regular canons who followed the Augustinian Rule. Historians of monastic life and female religious treat this organisation of the Gilbertines nearly like a commonplace. With regard to liturgy, this combination of two rules in one institution was remarkable, for the Benedictine monastic liturgy differed significantly from the divine offices among Augustinian canons. The liturgical dimension of double houses has not been sufficiently explored. The Gilbertine liturgical manuscripts represent an Augustinian liturgical cursus , while their Institutes , reflecting Cistercian models, mix both traditions. This article examines the issue and concludes that the Augustinian cursus dominated the order and that it seemed more important to identify the Gilbertine nuns as Benedictine than for the nuns to practice a Benedictine liturgy. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.




Sorrentino, J. (2002). In houses of nuns, in houses of canons: A liturgical dimension to double monasteries. Journal of Medieval History, 28(4), 361–372.

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