For Profession of faith (public avowal of faith according to a traditional formula), see Creed.
The term religious profession is used in many western-rite Christian denominations (including those of Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and other traditions) to refer to the solemn admission of men or women into a religious order by means of public vows.
The term is defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church in relation to members of religious institutes as follows:
By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels. Through the ministry of the Church they are consecrated to God, and are incorporated into the institute, with the rights and duties defined by law.
Canon Law also recognizes public profession of the three evangelical counsels on the part of Christians who live the "eremitic or anchoritic life" without being members of a religious institute:
A hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God in a consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.
The three evangelical counsels, which are considered in greater depth in the article about them, are those of chastity, poverty and obedience. The Benedictine religious profession of "stability, conversion of manners and obedience", though historically preceding the profession of the evangelical counsels by several centuries, includes the three evangelical counsels implicitly. Some orders add to the three evangelical counsels special vows inspired by the purpose of their own founder (see in particular the fourth vow unique to the Society of Jesus).
Religious profession is often associated with the granting of a religious habit, which the newly professed receives, with or without ceremony, from the superior of the institute or from the bishop. Acceptance of the...