Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The end of an era in monasticism

I thought I was familiar with the names of most Western monastic and neo-monastic movements, but just today, I heard about a movement for the first time - the Beguines.  Unfortunately, I heard about them because the world's last Beguine, Marcella Pattyn, died at the age of 92.

The Beguines had been around for 800 years, and were not a monastic order in the traditional sense.  They were women who lived lives of prayer, chastity, and service, but they were not bound by vows.  They could leave at any time, set their own rules, and worked in a trade (particularly the cloth trade).  According to an article about Pattyn's death in The Economist,  she was blind, but she "saw Christ, the mystical bridegroom of all Beguines, opening his heart to her like rays blazing from a lantern."  God willing, it sounds like the world could use a new Beguine movement.

The article about Pattyn and the Beguines from The Economist can be found here: http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21576632-marcella-pattyn-worlds-last-beguine-died-april-14th-aged-92-marcella-pattyn

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