The Poor Clare story is one of simple joys, hard work and loving sisterhood.
Because we are cloistered contemplatives, our special care and work is to pray for the Church and for all God’s people.
What is a "cloister"?
Some form of cloister is present in all types of religious life, even the convents of sisters who engage in active apostolates. In such communities, one area of the convent is "cloistered," reserved for the sisters alone. This type of cloister is called common cloister.
In the contemplative life, the concept of a cloister, a place reserved for the nuns alone, is expanded and deepened. Often the entire monastery is cloistered, and may even be surrounded by a cloister wall. The choir where the nuns sit in the chapel is sometimes hidden from the public who come to pray. And, depending on what form of cloister each monastery professes, the nuns may practice enclosure, which means they vow never to pass beyond the bounds of the cloister. There are three different types of cloister recognized by the Church: papal cloister, constitutional cloister, and monastic cloister, which are explained below.
Constitutional cloister is a form of cloister defined by the norms in the Rule and Constitutions of the individual order. It is generally less strict than papal cloister. This type of cloister is practiced if the community's charism joins to their life of contemplation some kind of apostolic or charitable work. They are still cloistered nuns, but they may have an apostolate attached to the monastery--such as a retreat house--which would be impossible to carry out if they practiced papal enclosure. Cor Orans says of constitutional cloister: "It must be a space of silence and recollection, where the permanent search for the face of God can develop, according to the charism of the Institute, in consideration of the works of apostolate or charity exercised by the nuns" (n. 205).
Some of the religious orders which traditionally practice constitutional enclosure are: Passionist Nuns, Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, and Norbertine Canonesses.