Nonvirgin becoming a nun

I’m writing a book in which the main character wishes to become a nun, but she has already lost her virginity. According to Catholic law, can she still become a nun? What steps would she have to go through if she can? If she can’t become a nun, what other options does she have?

Well, considering people who have children have become nuns I don’t think it’s a problem.


She can become a nun, there are no difficult plots necessary for your book here. When you become a nun, monk or priest you remain chaste, what you have done before that cannot stop you from entering the religious life.

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There are certain orders where virginity would be a requirement, however, these are few and far between. I do think that the discernment process for a young woman who had made poor choices would likely be much more stringent than one who had not.

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Mother Angelica’s own mother became a nun, and I doubt that she was still a virgin.


I can only think of Mary Magdalene at this time One can change their life around and indeed can burn with a fervent love of serving God. What ever her vocation is calling her to do there are orders of nuns. whether it be cloistered, teacher or working on the street with the less unfortunate. Good luck in wrting your book. God Bless.

It depends on the order and also on the particular cirrcumstances.
The main character in Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede becomes a nun in middle age, after her young child tragically dies in an accident.

Virtually no community requires virginity as a qualification for membership. I am in the US, and know of at least 4 congregations founded by women who were divorced, and 2 founded by women who were unwed mothers. There are countless sisters today who are widowed and divorced. And no doubt many others who were not entirely virginal. Anyway, it’s not an issue. The question is the future, not the past.

The rule for Nuns (and for Monks, and Bishops, and Cardinals, and Priests**) is that you can’t already be married and you can’t get married or have sex afterwards.

If you had sex in the past*** you can still join the Clergy. Some Nuns are widows, and others had sinful pasts that they since atoned for.

A big part of Christianity is God’s Forgiveness. The more sinful someone used to be, the more celebration there will be in Heaven when that person atones and repents.

** There are exceptions. Married Men can become Priests in the Eastern Rite, and Married Protestant Priests who convert to Catholicism can become Catholic Priests while still being married.

*** If you committed a sexual crime in the past, such as sexual assault, then you won’t be allowed in the clergy.

None of those concerns apply. Just write!

I would be more concerned about your perception of religious life and how it’s portrayed in your book. What gifts to the community does this non-virgin bring?

I’m a writer, too. Feel free to contact me.

Mrs. Cloisters, OP
Lay Dominican

To really be a good writer, you either need to write about things you know, or you need to do research into those things you don’t know. One of my favorite writers takes a whole year between each new book because she does an enormous amount of research for each one.

By research, I don’t mean asking people on a forum but actually delving deeply into the subject matter with those who have first hand knowledge. I suggest contacting different communities and finding out more about each one: active communities, cloistered communities, different charisms and apostolates etc.

Although there are very few communities today that require a nun to be a virgin, there are one or two that still offer consecration as a virgin - but this is separate from their consecration as a religious.

Best wishes with your writing.

By way of clarification: nuns aren’t canonically “clergy,” they are vowed religious. And if you are a married man becoming a permanent deacon, you can still have relations with your wife and become “clergy” canonically.

For the most part, that wouldn’t be an obstacle to joining the religious life. Widows can become nuns. Though it might be an issue for orders that require perpetual virginity. But they are not so common.
I hope this book isn’t going to be full of anti-catholic garbage that one so often sees in books these days.

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