A Medieval Monk
Medieval Monks were similar to Early
Christian Ireland monks but also had
They still copied manuscripts and prayed
however, they had different buildings in their
These monks would have been members of
orders such as the Dominicans or the
Franciscans. Some of these orders still exist
Becoming a monk
When a boy joined a monastery he was called
If the Abbot thought he would be a good monk
he would let him take solemn vows....
These were promises of:
Poverty- he must not own anything
Chastity- he must not marry
Obedience- he must do what the Abbot told
His hair was also cut in a tonsure. This was a
bald patch in the middle of his head.
A monk’s clothing
The colour of their clothes varied according to
A tunic, tied around the waist with a cloth or
Over the tunic was a scapula. This was a long
wide piece of woollen cloth worn over the
A cowl (a hood) was attached to the scapula.
Monks would also wear a chain with a cross
around their necks.
Pyramid of Power
A Medieval Monastery
The first type of monastery was established
by St. Benedict in 529 AD.
Different orders of monks and nuns were
also established during this time such as the
Benedictines, Augustinians and Poor Clares.
The monks lived in monasteries whereas the
nuns lived in convents.
Uses of a monastery
A medieval monastery made many works of
charity by feeding the hungry and healing
the sick who were brought to them.
A monastery provided education for boys
who wanted to become priests.
A monastery copied manuscripts preserved
It also kept records of anything eventful that
had happened in the past.
There are many parts to a monastery such as:
Church – where the monks prayed every day
Chapter House – where they met to discuss
business or to elect a new Abbot
Library – where monks studied
or copied manuscript.
Monastery layout 2
Cloisters – where monks walked and
Guest house – where monks gave food
to poor people.
Infirmary – where the sick were
Refectory – where the monks ate their
Dormitory – where the monks slept.
A monks daily life
3am Day begins. The monks get out of bed to sing matins in the church
4-6am Return to bed for brief sleep
6am Silent prayer
7am Breakfast, eaten in silence like any other meal
8-9am Work in the fields or in the library
10am High mass in the church
11-2pm Work again
2pm Dinner was the main meal of the day
5pm Vespers (evening prayers)
8pm Compline (night prayer) and retire to bed
A Monk’s work
Each monk had his own special job:
The Abbot was the head of the monastery
& was elected by the monks
When he was away on business his place
was taken by the Prior
The Almoner looked after the people who
came to the monastery
The Infirmarian looked after the sick
The Librarian looked after the library.