Lay brother

As a lay brothers are referred to in the Catholic Church, the religious men, who have not received the priesthood. Are they a member of a clerical religious order ( order of priests or clerical Congregation ), they live together with the religious priests, but usually can not perform any executive functions within the religious community. There are also religious congregations for lay brothers ( laikale congregations or fraternity called ); there not consecrated brothers can also act as supervisors of priests.


By the decree of the Second Vatican Council Perfectae Caritatis ( on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life ) lived lay brothers of the members of the Convention separately, usually were doing manual work and prayer commitments had lower than this. Typical activities were ( cleaning person ) work as field and construction workers, hostler, craft assistant, sacristan, porter, gardener, cook or Convention brother. There were in the monasteries partly monks ( possibly still ) no priests, but were fully integrated into the monk Convention ( Fratres ).

In historical periods

Early Modern Times

The by Brother Heinrich Rauscher (1740-1802) wrote the manuscript from the Abbey of St. Peter in the Black Forest is a rare glimpse into the life of a Benedictine abbey converse in the early modern period. They did not take part in the choral prayer, but instead prayed other prayers. Every day she visited the Holy Mass; half an hour was provided for lectio divina. On most days, they were allowed to eat meat and drink wine. Her specialist areas were the convent gate, the sacristy and domestic work. Every day after Prim they met in the chapter house, where a chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict was read. After the debt chapter they received their work assignments.

In the monasteries of other orders the brothers lived in a similar way of life.

20th century

In most monastic orders the men lay brothers known as conversi were up to the adaptation of religious life to the requirements of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis ( on the contemporary renewal of religious life ) of the Second Vatican Council not as full monks. In many communities they gained after 1970 full chapter rights and duties.


In traditional lore, the lay brothers were often regarded as a humble and more saintly than the priest monks. So the Trappistenabt Eugene Boylan wrote in 1958: If you want to find mystics in the monastery, then look under the lay brothers. For me, one the greatest humiliation of my life, to celebrate the Holy Mass, when a lay brother is present as an altar boy. Although I believe that the Lord Jesus in my hands, but I do know that Christ is much more interested in the man who kneels beside me. It is the greatest humiliation that I know.