Recluse (Lat. reclusus, also inclusus, shut up"), a class of monks or nuns who, from a moItive of special penance, or with a view to the more strict observance of Christian perfection, remained shut up from all converse, even with members of their own order, in a small cell of a hermitage or other place of strict retirement. This practice, which was a kind of voluntary imprisonment, either from motives of devotion or penance, was not allowed except to persons of tried virtue and by special permission of the abbot; and the recluse, who took an oath never to stir out of his retreat, was with due solemnity locked up in the presence of the abbot or the bishop, who placed his seal upon the door, not to be removed without the authority of the bishop himself. Everything necessary for support was conveyed through a window. If the recluse were a priest, he was allowed a small oratory with a window which looked into the church, through which he might make his offerings at mass, hear the singing, and answer those who spoke to him; but this wincdow had curtains before it, so that he could not be seen. In later medlieval times the recluse was allowed a small garden near his cell for the planting of a few herbs and for recreation in fresh air. If he fell sick, his door was opened by the authorities for the sake of affording assistance. The celebrated mediaeval theologian Rabanus Maurus was a recluse when elected archbishop of Mentz. Nuns also were found to practice the same voluntary seclusion, especially in the Benedictine, Franciscan, and Cistercian orders. A rule specially designed for female recluses was composed by AElred of Reresby, and is preserved by Holstenius in his Codex Regularum Monasticarum, i, 418 sq. In a wider sense, the name recluse is popularly applied to all cloistered persons, whether men or women — even those who live in community with their brethren. The inmates of the celebrated French retreat for Jansenists — Port-Royal — were also called recluses. See Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen- Lexikon (art. "Inclusi"); Cults, Scenes, and Characters of the Middle Ages (Lond. 1873).