Daily life in the convent consisted of cleaning, cooking, caring for clothes and altar cloths, copying manuscripts, and educating young students sent to them for instruction. Nuns also engaged in the manufacture of textiles and sewn items, ranging from fine embroideries, tapestries, and vestments to utilitarian cloth for religious habits and household uses. Nuns developed new technologies for cloth production and finishing. Although sisters provided hospitality to travelers, cared for the sick, and raised alms for the poor, their days centered on the internal rigorous schedules of fixed hours of prayer, vigils, and fasting.

At times, early nuns petitioned for strict cloister so they could avoid the expense of providing room and board for friends, family, and clerical visitors. Yet monasteries and abbeys affected much of secular society around them, employing tradesmen and farmers, offering asylum or protection during political crises, and contributing beyond measure to the advancement of civilization through groundbreaking advancements in science, agriculture, medicine, philosophy, music, art, and literature. Modern history would be lost without the writings and records of the medieval abbeys and monasteries.

Elizabeth Kuhns, The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns


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