The beguines? Indeed, a good question. I have only heard of the beguines in a school a decade ago and thought nothing more of them. The beguines are a group of women who're not nuns bound by vows, but lived in community and wore a habit. A lay movement from the 12th century. The women who followed the beguine way of life were united in the common life, in prayer, in mission, that is, they had a life of living of the gospel in service of humanity.
Imagine my surprise when on May 12th The Economist published an article on the death of Marcella Pattyn (+April 14, 2013), the last beguine. Sister Marcella, 92, was blind and was refused entrance to the religious orders of her time.
"Who were the beguines?", The Economist opens a door.
It seems to me that the vocation to be a beguines is still needed today. Anyone willing to take up this vocation anew? To live your baptismal call more and more intensely without the constraints of vows (and the dysfunction?) of religious life is what's happening today with the rise of ecclesial movements and secular institutes.
Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Marcella Pattyn, may her memory be eternal.