Has there ever been any sains or non-saints who were mentally ill but got accepted in to a convent anyway?


Hey everyone. I am looking for some examples of saints and non-saints who were devout that were considered to be mentally ill but who somehow made it into a convent or monastery anyway.

The reason I post this is because I have this strong feeling that I am called to be a nun. However, I think that most convents would reject me due to my mental illness even though it is relatively well managed through medication. In fact, I honestly think that if I were to become a nun, I would do much better as far as my mental illness goes. I don't know if I am right about this or not but sometimes I feel like my dissatisfaction with myself (which is a major part of my mental illness) is due to the fact that I have not yet followed God's plan for me and entered a convent.

Also, is there any hope whatsoever for a person to become a nun once they have recovered enough from mental illness? I have depression and borderline personality disorder. Both are fairly well managed with medication and I am improving with treatment. Both illnesses generally have a very good prognosis if it is treated with medication and therapy and I am in therapy as well. So, if I fully recovered from my mental illness to the point where I didn't have to take medicine and engage in therapy anymore, would there be any chance of a convent accepting me or would I have very little if any chance due to my history of mental illness?

Please help!


All saints are insane :slight_smile:

But seriously, no. Mental illness typically disqualifies one from candidacy for the religious life. There are various ways to explain and defend this, but it boils down to common sense: religious communities don’t take on cases that require special treatment. In fact, canon law even says, “With vigilant care, superiors are only to admit those who, besides the required age, have the health, suitable character, and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the proper life of the institute. This health, character, and maturity are to be verified even by using experts, if necessary.”


Oh okay. I understand. Well, I guess I am not called to be a nun then. :frowning:


Do not be deterred!

You should still pursue and speak to a Vocations Director about this.

There have been Saint’s in the past who; for a plethora of reasons have suffered from some forms of mental illness;

Saint Christina the Astonishing was obedient to the Convent of Saint Catherine’s; although she was never a member.

Blessed Eustochium of Padua was an epeleptic who was also a Benedictine nun.

Saint Giles was a cripple and an abbot.

Saint Margaret of Cortona was depressed; yet founded the Poverelle community of tertiaries.

Blessed Michelina of Pesaro joined the Fransiscans as a tertiary after she left imprisonment for insanity.

Don’t be deterred; although bear in consideration no one has the right to religious life; and it is a matter of discernment of the individual and the society.


Remember also that there’s the ‘third way’ - lay oblates who live according to the rules of their chosen order but do so in the secular world.

There are always options.


Do not get discouraged, my friend. At one point I was considering religious life despite dealing with depression - the community I was going to join then was going to look past it. However, when my illness became clearly something more severe (although severity in mental illnesses can be *very *relative) we agreed I did not have a vocation to religious life. But even then, God worked.

I have taken private vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. I am not in any religious community, but my spiritual director is involved in founding a community (the same one I was looking at joining); his order has already one ordained priest. My personal spirituality is heavily influenced by St. Louis de Montfort.

I am not at all bitter or angry or frustrated with God, the Church, or the Community. God does not always call us to what we personally would be liked to have as our vocation. We have to ask for His help, and His Mother’s, in finding our personal vocation.

I will keep you in my prayers,
God bless,


I'd suggest contacting the convents.

In today's world, people are diagnosed and labeled in ways unheard of in past generations.

Catholic psychiatrist, Fr. Groeschel has the program Sunday Night Live, and he was talking about a recent male saint (Fr. Groeschel had photographs of him) who was not allowed to offer Mass, but people of the parish loved him.

I'm unsure if this saint was mentally handicapped or mentally ill.

Are we not all, mentally ill without the love of God?


Holly, I don’t mean to be rude, but you’ve asked this question before several times and gotten the same answers (look at your post history). Don’t feel offended that you cannot be a nun. I cannot be one either because I, too, have a mental illness. It is NOT your fault. It is a chemical imbalance in your body that is causing these disorders, not you. It is very difficult to accept, but once you do, you understand that God has a better plan out there that suits you.

I recently ended my discernment after 2.5 years of going from community to community hoping someone would accept me, but I finally understood that Canon Law states that one must be free from emotional or mental impairment. It is a very difficult life that even the most healthy people have trouble adjusting to. It would be doubly hard (at least) for someone like me, with depression and anxiety, to become accustomed to the daily life. Pretty much all communities cannot afford medication for their members because of the poverty they live out in their vows. In someone who has severe depression, it could also be a burden for the community, and I know I wouldn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

Please understand that communities are not rejecting you. Each and every one would love to see new members that really want to live the life, but they have to be vigilant and cautious because of the Canon Law.

God has something really amazing planned for you, Holly. It may not be in religious life, but it’s better than you imagined! You might even consider joining a Third Order community that lives the spirituality you feel most called to (Carmelite, Dominican, etc). It is a great way for a lay person to live the life without living in a convent or monastery. I’m going to be a Dominican Tertiary in the future. God bless! :slight_smile:


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