What is the procedure for visitation of a monastery or convent?

I am from Asia, and I am going to France and Lourdes, and some churches. Part of pilgrimage and part of sightseeing. However, I would also want to have a visit to a Carmelite Monastery or convent in France.

I may have a calling to religious life. And I want to visit inside and meet the nuns there and see how their life is. But I guess it is not opened for visitation publicly anytime. So what is the procedure if I want to go and visit for half day or a day (not a long stay this time)? Should I contact the sister I know here and let her help me redirect? or just email to the Monastery in France and make an appointment with the nuns there?

Thank you. :slight_smile:

The Visitation are the only monasteries that may permit you to come inside the enclosure. Such is part of their charism. If you say you are in need of a retreat, they will leave you to yourself. They will give you a vocation retreat if you say you are attracted to just their monastery. Paray le Monial is where the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were given to St. Margaret Mary. Annecy is where the Visitation order was founded.

The Carmel of Lisieux, where the Little Flower was sanctified, has a guesthouse.

There’s also the Shrine of St. Anne d’Auray (sp?) and the Cave of St. Mary Magdalen in France.

But, the Visitation would be your best bet for trying to get into an enclosed monastery.


When I went to France I visited the convent of the Sisters of St Vincent de Paul. I think they are opened for visits. You should call them ahead and speak with them to schedule a visit. They were very welcoming and nice and it was a great experience.

I can’t speak for other orders but almost all Benedictine monasteries welcome guests for retreats, usually self-directed but one can ask to meet a monk for spiritual counselling.

Many also have vocation programs that allow one to live and work in the monastery, often in the enclosure, for a few weeks or up to a month or two.

Depending how that goes it may be possible to explore further or have another session. If the vocation appears serious you’ll be requested to get things in order in your private life to ensure you arrive with no attachments, especially debts. Then you may be admitted as postulant when they deem you’re ready.

The transition then is from postulant to novice to temporary profession (which may be renewed but not indefinitely) to final solemn profession, a process that can take up to 5 years. At any time in the process you may be asked to leave, and the community will get to vote on whether to accept you for both temporary and solemn vows.

I’d like to recommend you visiting standard and so estimated by tourists places, like Notre Dame de Paris. It’s atmosphere, it’s diviness and overall spiritual feeling won’t leave your heart ever after the visit. I’d also like to mention high taxi rates, so better book your transfer on-line. To my mind, kiwitaxi.com/France/De+Gaulle+Airport is a perfect choice for any tourist - I was pleasantly surprised with comfort, service and prices. Good luck!

Cloisters, your statement is out of date. I have been in (and stayed in) the enclosure of three Carmelite Monasteries, and one of Poor Clares. It varies widely from community to community. So I would recommend identifying particular houses and contacting them for their policies.

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