What happens when nuns die? (preparation and prayers for a dead nun)

As a theologian and devout Christian, I have developed an interest in understanding the way of life of nuns. This is because there is very minimal public knowledge about nuns, who are very important members of the Church. I am especially intrigued to find out what happens to nuns when they die. I recently embarked on quest research to learn more and find credible information on this topic, seeking insight from nuns residing in nearby convents. Thankfully, the research paid off, as I got credible information. As a theology professor, I was teaching my college class about the lifestyle of nuns. The class launched into a heated debate, everyone arguing, trying to defend their points and opinions on this topic. Having carried out extensive research previously, I was able to answer questions comprehensively and put all the misconceptions to rest. We had a wonderful class where we discussed many topics. Among them was, What happens when nuns die?

When nuns die, the fellow nuns in charge of the Religious order and convent are notified. They notify the immediate family, if any exist, and other nuns in the convent of their peer’s demise. Soon afterward, preparations for the deceased’s burial commence. Religious orders have the same goal, which is to dedicate their lives to worship and serve God. However, they differ in traditions and perspectives. This is also the case for burial ceremonies, with each having a different approach to properly sending off the souls of their loved ones.

In this article, I invite you to join me as I dig deeper to find out about who takes care of a deceased nun’s funeral arrangement, the Catholic rituals for a deceased nun, prayers said to the deceased nun by fellow nuns, and much more!

Who takes care of funeral arrangements when a nun dies?

What happens when nuns die? 
Who takes care of funeral arrangements when a nun dies? Image source: Pixabay

The respective nuns governing the convent where the deceased lived, as well as fellow nuns, take care of the deceased nun’s funeral arrangements. The deceased nun’s immediate family can also contribute if they wish to. A nun is a woman who devotes her life fully to the service and worship of God. She takes certain vows, and from there, she renounces everything in her past and starts a new life of serving God. This new life comes with a new family, which is the convent where she will live until she dies. This convent is a nun’s new family that is held accountable for the nun’s medical bills, general well-being, elderly care, and funeral.

For some nuns, the convents are fully enclosed communities, meaning they do not go outside their convents except in special circumstances. For example, going to the hospital Other convents are partially enclosed, meaning movement outside the convent’s premises is allowed. This, of course, requires permission. This being said, we see that a convent is just like a boarding school. It provides shelter, food, and clothing to nuns, not forgetting medical care and spiritual counsel.

Who prepares a nun when they die?

Attendants from the preferred funeral home prepare the deceased nun for burial. If not, nuns belonging to the same convent as the deceased are the ones who prepare a nun when they die. Every convent has different traditions and guidelines that they follow when preparing the body of a deceased member for burial. The common traditions involve cleansing the body and properly dressing it. This is to prepare it for burial, as the body is later placed in a coffin bought from preferred sellers and then brought to the chapel of the convent for viewing.

At the chapel, the body is welcomed by short prayers, and a vigil is conducted. Finally, a funeral mass is conducted where nuns pray and chant special hymns on the burial site, followed by burial. The body is buried in the convent’s cemetery, and family members and relatives of the deceased are invited. Further prayers are made for the soul of the deceased nun and for the affected family to cope with the pain and sadness that are caused by death.

What are the Catholic rituals for a dead nun?

Catholic rituals conducted for a deceased nun include a welcoming prayer, a vigil and body viewing, remembrance of the deceased’s life while alive, a vigil, a funeral mass, and, lastly, burial. All these activities are conducted in-house, at the respectful convent where the deceased lived. The welcoming prayers begin as soon as the funeral home delivers the deceased body inside the casket. The casket is placed within the chapel.

The body viewing and vigil follow as other nuns pray for the body while viewing it. Silent prayers and weeps are witnessed as all are mourning the loss of a loved one. Remembrance of the life and work of the deceased follows as fellow nuns share their experiences and memories shared between them and the deceased; all this is done during the vigil.

The day after, a funeral mass is conducted with special prayers and hymns for the soul of the deceased. Lastly, the burial takes place as fellow nuns chant special hymns in the convent’s cemetery as the casket is placed in the ground six feet deep and covered with soil.

What prayers do nuns say for their dead peers?

preparation and prayers for a dead nun
What prayers do nuns say for their dead peers? Image source: Pixabay

Nuns normally conduct three prayers that include welcoming prayers, a vigil, and a funeral mass for their deceased peers. These are traditional prayers that are common for most Religious orders. However, traditions and prayers conducted for deceased nuns by their peers differ across many different religious orders. This is common even in life; everyone is entitled to have their opinions, and that is alright. This is the same case here, where different religious orders have different approaches and perspectives, but all are here to worship and serve God.

The first prayer for the deceased nun by her peers is the welcoming prayer. This is where short prayers are conducted to welcome the body (already groomed and in a casket), which is brought to the chapel of the respective convent.

The second prayer is the vigil, a special prayer conducted by peers of the deceased nun when viewing the body and paying their last respects. Silent prayers and weeping are common here as peers mourn the loss of a loved one. Remembrance of the life and work of the deceased is carried out as peers share their experiences and memories with the deceased.

Lastly, a funeral mass is conducted, where farewell prayers and hymns are conducted to say goodbye and help the soul of the deceased ascend to paradise. Immediately after this, the deceased nun is buried peacefully at the cemetery of the convent.

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