So what’s the lowest required age to become a monk? Also what’s the lowest recorded ago a man has become a monk. I heard one Saint got tonsured at 12 years old. Also, what’s the lowest age that a man has become a priest?
I don’t keep track of that; I recall someone being ordained at an early age (21 sticks in my memory, which may not have much to do with the story) and as I recall, he was dying when ordained.
Tonsure was at one point a minor Order. There were others also, in a step fashion.
As to becoming a monk, that is going to depend on the order one chooses, as they likely have a minimum age. As to prior history, one needs to keep in mind that education was far different 100, 500, and 1,000 years ago and is essentially irrelevant except for “that was what happened then”. Likewise, neither now nor historically do I have any information.
Keep in mind also that “becoming a monk” may be a several year process; becoming a postulant or equivalent may be considered by some to “becoming a monk”, but is a bit more of a “come, let’s look at you and you look at us and see if we both wish to proceed further”.
In the late 1970s in Italy, a dying seminarian was ordained aged 19 and was able to celebrate Mass.
The current Code of Canon Law applies now, and it was promulgated in 1983. The CCL states that nobody is to be admitted to the novitiate before the age of 17. Congregations have their own constitutions, and will oftentimes raise that age.
So, now you’d need a spiritual director, and contact the diocesan vocations director. If being attracted to monastic life, click the first link under my moniker.
As @Cloisters says there’s a minimum age set down in the Church’s law. In addition, I’ve noticed many orders and congregations set slightly higher minima. From what I have read of the vocations pages of various religious communities they often want you to be of the legal age of majority and may require you to be educated to degree level and/or to have had some work experience.
Saint Therese entered the novitiate at age 15, so there are definitely historical examples of teenagers joining monastic life. Today, however, the requirements are usually being at least 18 years.
St Therese was the exception.
A member of our Safe Harbor Vocation Support was originally accepted as a claustral oblate at Marmion Abbey in Illinois. He was in his sixties. They went ahead and admitted him to the Novitiate.
As for women, I have seen a 75 year old make solemn monastic profession in a Benedictine Monastery.
St Therese was indeed the exception, and it was under a different version of Canon Law.
Another exception was St Agnes of Montepulchiano, OP. She was a spiritual prodigy and entered religious life at something like age 7, after papal permission. My Ministry sponsors an annual novena to her for Vocations younger than 14. (Which is basically asking for the seeds to be planted).
There is St. Symeon the Stylite (the younger) who took upon himself the life of a pillar-dweller (a stylite), and he was only 6 or 7 years old. He lived the life of a pillar-dweller for 68 years since.