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A term that has a long and varied ecclesiastical history, originally designating those children who were sent to monasteries to be brought up by religious. Some of these oblates became religious. After the early Middle Ages oblates were lay persons who were united to a religious order by a simplified rule of life, but who did not become full religious; this practice still continues. In modern times the name has been adopted by a number of fully established religious institutes, of which the best known are the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.), founded in France in 1816 by Bishop Charles de Mazenod, and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, originally founded by their namesake and re-established in 1871 by Louis Brisson, a priest of Troyes in France. (Etym. Latin oblatus, offered.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.