The vitality to be found among monks and nuns in the nineteenth century was less in the historic orders than in small groups gathered for particular purposes of prayer, promotion of a particular devotion, education, evangelism, or care for the sick or needy. The numbers of religious grew through the century, but not necessarily in the old orders, and despite the political difficulties, dissolutions and expulsions they suffered in most Catholic countries. Discussion of each major order in turn shows how they adapted or failed to adapt to the modern world and the tensions between centralization and local autonomy.
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