The conversi were the historical antecedents of the Cistercian Lay Brothers. The term was originally applied to those who voluntarily renounced the world and entered a religious order to do penance and to lead a life of greater perfection. The renouncing of the world was known as the conversio a saeculo, which had as its object a reform or change of life, the conversio morum, hence conversi or the “converted”.
Today more and more lay persons feel a strong attraction to Cistercian monasteries and to the spiritual values and practices they find there. Like the conversi of old, they too are interested in living the Cistercian charism; unlike the conversi of old, they seek to live this lifestyle in the world.