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Subject: The custom of monastic names.
Author: Jörmungandr   (Authenticated as Lucille)
Date: April 23, 2008 at 2:57:35 PM
I'm not quite certain that this is the right message board to post this thread in; I was tempted to post this in The Lounge, but ultimately I decided that it was best to try it here first. :)

To my understanding, in the Roman Catholic religion it is custom that one who becomes a nun or a monk (depending on the sex) takes on a different name than his/her birth name. According to Google, this is a so-called "monastic name."
In my country (I don't know how this goes in Anglo-Saxon countries), those who become nuns or monks tend to adopt a Latin(ized) name as their new name. An example: a man is born as Johannes [surname] and he adopts the name Stephanus when he becomes a monk. He supposedly also drops his surname, because from then on, he will only be known as Brother/Friar Stephanus. He doesn't use his birth name anymore, and graves of nuns and monks have proven to me that their birth names are not even written on their tombstones as well.

My question is: why does this custom exist? Why does one adopt a new name when he/she becomes a monk/nun - why will the birth name be removed for the rest of his/her life? And is this also legal? I mean, wouldn't a new nun or monk have to change her/his legal papers since she/he assumed a new identity? Or is this one of those things where church and the law are still separated?

I would appreciate it if someone shed some light on the matter, because I've been wondering about it. Thank you. :)


"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold." ~ Frodo Baggins

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