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Anglican religious orders are communities of men or women (or in some cases mixed communities of

both sexes) in theAnglican Communion who live under a common rule of life. The members of religious
orders take vows which often include the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, or
the ancient vow of stability, or sometimes a modern interpretation of some or all of these vows. Members
may be laity or clergy, but most commonly include a mixture of both. They lead a common life of work and
prayer, sometimes on a single site, sometimes spread over multiple locations.
Titles[edit]
Members of religious communities may be known as monks or nuns, particularly in those communities
which require their members to live permanently in one location; they may be known as friars or sisters, a
term used particularly (though not exclusively) by religious orders whose members are more active in the
wider community, often living in smaller groups. Amongst the friars and sisters the term mendicant is
sometimes applied to orders whose members are geographically mobile, frequently moving between
different small community houses. Brother and Sister are common forms of address across all the
communities. The titles Father and Mother or Reverend Father and Reverend Mother are commonly
applied to the leader of a community, or sometimes more generally to all members who have been
ordained as priests. In the Benedictine tradition the formal titles Right Reverend and Very Reverend are
sometimes applied to the Abbot (leader) and Prior (deputy leader) of the community.
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Benedictine
communities sometimes apply the titles Dom and Dame to professed male and female members, rather
than Brother and Sister.
History[edit]
Overview[edit]
Religious orders were dissolved by King Henry VIII when he separated the Church of England from papal
primacy. In 1626, the saintly Nicholas Ferrar, a protege of William Laud (1573-1645), and his family
established the Little Gidding community. Since there was no formal Rule (such as the Rule of Saint
Benedict), no vows taken, and no enclosure, Little Gidding cannot be said to be a formal religious
community, like a monastery, convent, or hermitage. The household had a routine according to High
Churchprinciples and the Book of Common Prayer. Fiercely denounced by the Puritans and denounced
as "Protestant Nunnery" and as an Arminian heresy. Little Gidding was attacked in a 1641 pamphlet
entitled "The Arminian Nunnery". The fame of the Ferrars and the Little Gidding community spread and
they attracted visitors. King Charles I visited three times, including on 2 May 1646 seeking refuge after
the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Naseby. The community ended when its last member died in 1657.
Although the Ferrar community remained a part of the Anglican ethos (Bishop Francis Turner composed
a memoir of Nicholas Ferrar prior to his death in 1700),
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not until the mid-nineteenth century with
the Catholic Revial or Oxford Movement and the revival of Anglican religious orders did Little
Gidding reach the consciousness of the average Anglican parishioner. Since that time, interest in the
community has grown and not been limited to members of the Anglican Communion. Accord to ascetical
theologian Martin Thornton, much of the appeal is due to Nicholas Ferrar and the Little Gidding
communitys exemplifying the lack of rigidity (representing the best Anglicanism's via media can offer) and
common-sense simplicity, coupled with pastoral warmth, which are traceable to the origins of
Christianity.
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Between 1841 and 1855, several religious orders for women were begun, among them the Community of
St. Mary the Virgin atWantage and the Society of Saint Margaret at East Grinstead. Religious orders for
men appeared later, beginning in 1866 with theSociety of St. John the Evangelist (Cowley Fathers). In
North America, the founding of Anglican religious orders began in 1842 with the Nashotah Community
(men) in Wisconsin, followed in 1845 by the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion in New York. In recent
decades, there has been a remarkable growth of religious orders in other parts of the Anglican
Communion, most notably inTanzania, South Africa, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New
Guinea. There are currently about 2,400 monks and nuns in the Anglican communion, about 55% of
whom are women and 45% of whom are men.
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Restoration[edit]
During the three centuries from dissolution to restoration some views expressed a desire for the
restoration of the religious life within Anglicanism. In 1829 the poet Robert Southey, in
his Colloquies (cxiii.), trusts that thirty years hence this reproach also may be effaced, and England may
have its Beguines and its Sisters of mercy. It is grievously in need of them.
Practical efforts were made in the religious households of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding, 1625, and
of William Law at King's Cliffe, 1743; and under Charles II, says Fr. Bede in his Autobiography, about 12
Protestant ladies of gentle birth and considerable means founded a short-lived convent, with William
Sancroft, then Dean of St Paul's, for director.
Southey's appeal had weight, and before the thirty years had passed, compassion for the needs of the
destitute in great cities, and the impulse of a strong Church revival, aroused a body of laymen, among
whom were included William Gladstone, Sir T. D. Acland, Mr A. J. Beresford-Hope, Lord Lyttelton and
Lord John Manners (chairman), to exertions which restored sisterhoods to the Church of England. On 26
March 1845 the Park Village Community was set on foot in Regent's Park, London, to minister to the poor
population of St Pancras. The Rule was compiled by Edward Pusey, who also gave spiritual
supervision. In the Crimean War the superior and other sisters went out as nurses with Florence
Nightingale. The community afterwards united with the Devonport Sisters, founded by Miss Sellon in
1849, and together they form what is known as Ascot Priory. The St Thomas's sisterhood at Oxford
commenced in 1847; and the mother-superior of the Holy Trinity Convent at Oxford, Marian Hughes,
dedicated herself before witnesses to such a life as early as 1841.
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