To quote Wikipedia:
“A nun is a member of a religious community of women, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Communities of nuns exist in numerous religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, and Taoism.
Within Christianity, women religious, known as nuns or religious sisters, are found in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions among others. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, nuns historically take solemn vows and live a life of prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent, while sisters take simple vows and live an active vocation of prayer and charitable works in areas such as education and healthcare.”
Nuns and sisters, usually Roman Catholic nuns, have been prominent screen regulars at least as far back as Lillian Gish in 1923’s silent classic, The White Sister, and Helen Hayes in the 1933 talkie remake. It wasn’t until 1943’s The Song of Bernadette, though, that actresses playing nuns were nominated for Oscars. That film earned postulant Jennifer Jones an Oscar for her portrayal of the nineteenth century saint, and Gladys Cooper a nomination as the doubting nun who is her adversary for much of the film.
Ingrid Bergman followed her New York Film Critics award for The Bells of St. Mary’s with her third successive nomination for playing Sister Benedict, a charismatic school principal, opposite Bing Crosby’s easygoing priest in Leo McCarey’s superior sequel to his 1944 Oscar-winner, Going My Way, in which there were no nuns.
Deborah Kerr won a much-deserved New York Film Critics award for her Sister Clodagh, the leader of a group of Anglican nuns on assignment in the Himalayas, in 1947’s Black Narcissus, but failed to receive an Oscar nomination for her portrayal. Flora Robson and Kathleen Byron, the most prominent members of her group, also failed to receive nominations.
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