Nonna This word is regarded by some as equivalent to matrona, a matron, and sancta vidua, a holy widow; but by others is considered to be the Greek vovic, virgo, a virgin. These nonne were also denoted sanctimoniales, virgines Dei et Christi, ancillce Dei, sorores ecclesice. Before the regular and systematic establishment of monastic institutions, we find the spirit of asceticism and monkery in the Church: virgins were set apart by solemn ceremonies, were required to devote themselves to a single life, were veiled, had their names entered in the Church-registers, were called canonical, and often had their maintenance from the Church. They are to be distinguished from the order of deaconesses (q.v.). — As early as the 5th century this office ceased. Afterwards many offices of charity which the deaconesses had been accustomed to perform for the sick and poor were discharged by the sisters of the Church. SEE NUN; SEE SISTERHOODS.