Cloistered Nuns Devoted to Mary

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Carmelite Saints

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Carmelite Saints

As with a similar post where we featured cloistered communities who pray for priests, I first want to emphasize that ALL nuns have a devotion to Mary! They imitate her total consecration to God, her hidden life in Nazareth, her union with Jesus at the foot of the Cross, and her intercession for the Church as its Mother and exemplar.

But some cloistered traditions have a specific devotion to Mary at the root of their charism. In this month of May, I want to highlight a few of these traditions.

The most famous cloistered Order devoted to Mary is the Carmelite nuns. They consider their Order as belonging to Mary in a particular way; one of their mottos is, “Carmel is all Mary’s.” They have a special devotion to Mary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose feast day is July 16th. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is depicted holding the infant Jesus and offering the brown Carmelite scapular to her devotees.

Mary giving the Rosary to St. Dominic

Mary giving the Rosary to St. Dominic

Another cloistered Order with special devotion to Mary is the Dominican Nuns. They honor Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary, since this devotion was begun by their founder, St. Dominic, after a vision in which Mary gave him a Rosary. For this reason, the Rosary has a special place in the spiritual life of Dominican nuns. Many communities practice a “Perpetual Rosary,” similar to Perpetual Adoration, in which the nuns take turns praying the Rosary throughout each of the 24 hours of the day.

The Visitandines, or Sisters of the Visitation, founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, have a special devotion to Mary in the mystery of the Visitation, when she greets her cousin Elizabeth and proclaims her Magnificat. Their spirit of simplicity reflects Mary’s hidden life in Nazareth.

The Passionist Nuns and Handmaids of the Precious Blood both have a special devotion to Mary standing at the Foot of the Cross. The Passionists honor Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, with a Feast Day on Sept. 15th.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles honor Mary in her hidden life of intercession with St. John in Ephesus. In particular, they emphasize her role in praying for and supporting priests. Many other Benedictine and Cistercian communities have monasteries dedicated to Mary under various titles.

The Sisters of Mary Morning Star honor Mary under her ancient title of “Morning Star,” which is found in the Litany of Loreto and is a reference to the Song of Songs 6:10: “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” (RSV).

If you know of other cloistered communities with a particular devotion to Mary, please feel free to mention them in the comments below!