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Catholic Dictionary




A shutting up, an enclosing. The symbolic closing of the door of a cloistered cell, voluntarily done, by a religious who attends the religious services through an opening in the chapel wall. In some cases, rare nowadays, food, light, and air are received through a window of the hermitage that is built adjoining the chapel proper. It also refers to a method of burial by which bodies are enclosed in chambers and vaults of solid masonry, for example where the native soil is impracticable for burial. Mummified bodies recovered from such places were falsely exhibited as "walled up nuns" or "victims of the Inquisition" by unscrupulous controversialists.