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A nun is a woman who vows to dedicate her life to religious service, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Although the idea is usually associated with Roman Catholicism, nuns exist in various other Christian denominations like the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran, as well as other religions. In the Buddhist tradition, female monastics are known as Bhikkhuni, and take several additional vows compared to male monastics (bhikkhus). Nuns are most common in Mahayana Buddhism, but have more recently become more prevalent in other traditions. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, nuns historically take solemn vows and live a life of prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent, while religious sisters take simple vows and live an active vocation of prayer and charitable works. Christianity = Catholicism =In the Catholic tradition, there are many religious institutes of nuns and sisters (the female equivalent of male monks or friars), each with its own charism or special character. Traditionally, nuns are members of enclosed religious orders and take solemn religious vows, while sisters do not live in the papal enclosure and formerly took vows called 'simple vows'. As monastics, nuns living within an enclosure historically commit to recitation of the full Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day in church, usually in a solemn manner. They were formerly distinguished within the monastic community as 'choir nuns', as opposed to lay sisters who performed upkeep of the monastery or errands outside the cloister. This last task is still often entrusted to women, called 'externs', who live in the monastery, but outside the enclosure. They were usually either oblates or members of the associated Third Order, often wearing a different habit or the standard woman's attire of the period.
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