Catholic novitiate

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A novice, left, white. The habit of a novice often differs from that of the full professed monks.

A novice in Catholic law and tradition, is a prospective member of a religious institute who is being tried and being proven for suitability of admission to a religious order of brothers, sisters or monks.


Novices are not admitted to vows until they have successfully completed the prescribed period of training and proving, called the novitiate. In the Middle Ages novices typically would have dormitories in separate areas within a monastery; an early Cistercian monastery, Royal Monastery of Our Lady of the Wheel, founded in 1202, has this chamber clearly visible today.

Earlier, different orders followed their own rules governing the length and conditions of the novitiate. However, in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent legislated the length and conditions by which anyone aspiring to become a monk is obliged to be a novice; the usual period is for at least one year,[1] depending on the aptitude of the candidate.


  1. ^ "Novice". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
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