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Catholic Dictionary




The cloister of a religious community which reserves certain parts of the residence to the exclusive use of the members of the community. Strict enclosure, called papal, is the standard for other, less restricted forms of cloister. It pertains to religious institutes of women who are strictly contemplative. Its two main provisions, since the Second Vatican Council, are that: 1. "the nuns, novices and postulants must live within the confines of the convent prescribed by the enclosure itself, nor may they licitly go beyond them, except in the cases provided for by the law," and 2. "The law of enclosure likewise forbids anyone, of whatever class, condition, sex or age, to enter the cloistered area of the convent, except in the cases provided for by law" (Venite Seorsum, 1969, VII, 5, 6).