5 Fascinating Religious Orders Across Different Cultures

Religious orders have always had a mysterious aura distinct to them, their believers setting themselves apart from the rest of society in order to abide by the rules of their specific religious devotion. Let us learn about some of these intriguing religious communities and understand their roots!

1. Carmelite Knights

Known as the ‘Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel,’ Carmelite monks is a Roman Catholic community founded in the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Wyoming. They strictly abide by the primitive Carmelite Rule and the ancient monastic observance of Carmelite men. These men seek to attain spiritual enlightenment and reunion with God, their way of life established by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus in the Discalced Carmelite Reform. Their practices include a strict monastic enclosure, two hours of contemplative prayer daily, study and spiritual reading, and manual labor.

2. Sohei Monks

The Buddhist warrior monks of both ancient and feudal Japan. They first appeared during the Heian period and operated in large groups, holding considerable power in both military and imperial governments. Some notable Sohei monasteries include the Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei and the Kofuku-ji temple in the city Nara, both housing extended Sohei armies.

3. Teutonic Order

Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly known as the Teutonic Order, is a catholic religious order founded in Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem c. 1190. They were formed to aid Christians on their pilgrimages and journeys to Holy Land, and often served as a crusading military order. Although they still hold honorary knighthoods, they have been purely religious since 1810.

4. Buddhist Monasticism

Buddhist Monasticism is one of the oldest surviving versions of monasticism. They aim to uphold the teachings of Buddha, their sole purpose in life being the attainment of enlightenment. It is assumed that the Buddhist Monasticism was found by Gautama Buddha during his lifetime between the fifth and fourth centuries BCE when he accepted a group of fellow renunciants as his followers. Hence, Buddhist life can be defined as departing from lay life and focusing on inner peace.

5. Order of Carthusians

The Carthusian Order is a Latin enclosed religious order of the Catholic Church. The order includes both monks and nuns, founded by Bruno of Cologne in 1084. They perform a distinct type of liturgy known as the Carthusian Rite and they have their own rule, known as the Statues. Their motto is “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis”, Latin for "The Cross is steady while the world turns." They still exist today with the Grande Chartreuse remaining the head monastery of the order.


Asya Yılmaz


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