AskDefine | Define novitiate

Dictionary Definition



1 the period during which you are a novice (especially in a religious order) [syn: noviciate]
2 someone who has entered a religious order but has not taken final vows [syn: novice]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the period during which a novice of a religious order undergoes training
  2. the place where a novice lives and studies
  3. a novice

Extensive Definition

Novitiate, alt. noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a novice (or prospective) monastic or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether they are called to the religious life.
A novice is free to quit the novitiate at any time, and the Superior is free to dismiss them with or without cause. During the novitiate, the novice is often clothed in special clothing which, while distinct from secular dress is not the full habit worn by professed members of the community. The novice's day normally encompasses participation in the full canonical hours, manual labor, and special classes designed to instruct the novices on the religious life they are preparing to embrace. Spiritual exercises and tests of humility are a common feature of the novitiate. Many communities encourage frequent confession and reception of Holy Communion by their novices.
A Superior will often appoint an experienced member of the community to oversee the training of novices. This may be a single novice master who is responsible for the training of all novices, or an individual elder may be appointed for each novice.
Different religious communities will have varying requirements for the duration of the novitiate. Often one must go through a postulancy before entering the novitiate. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the novitiate is officially set at three years before one may be tonsured a monk or nun, though this requirement may be dispensed.
The term novitiate also referes to the building or complex within a monastery or convent which is devoted exclusively to the needs of novices (sleeping, training, etc.).


novitiate in Czech: Noviciát
novitiate in German: Noviziat
novitiate in Limburgan: Noviciaat
novitiate in Latin: Novitiatus
novitiate in Polish: Nowicjat
novitiate in Portuguese: Noviciado
novitiate in Russian: Новициат
novitiate in Finnish: Noviisi
novitiate in Swedish: Novis
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