For a long time the secret doings of the convent have been known only to a select few, leaving the rest of us to ponder what strange and wonderful things might go on behind those walls.
Can we really believe the picture painted by such movies as Sister Act, Sister Act 2 and... oh... some other ones with nuns in them? Or is there something more sinister going on?
The Sound of Music - that's got nuns in it, hasn't it?
Anyway, it's easy to imagine something weird and unusual taking place - something that might perhaps involve armies of genetically engineered clones, alien time travel technology and stolen military sonic weaponry. Can such fears be warranted?
Well no, of course not. That would be fricking nuts. But according to retired architect Roger Gimp, who spent many years working for the church, most convents are actually highly efficient nun factories.
Do Nuns Grow on Trees?
You were probably under the impression that nuns grew on trees but for many years - possibly longer - they have been manufactured to order, according to specifications that were first laid down by St Paul in his letter to the West Lothians.
The process is relatively straightforward. First, raw materials are melted in giant ecclesiastical furnaces and then poured into earthenware moulds. After five days, the moulds are broken open and the rough, unfinished forms are turned on lathes before being hand-finished by highly skilled deacons. Finally, the completed nuns are sent to the local bishop, who personally blesses each one and draws a smiley face on it in crayon.
However, early production methods meant that many nuns left the workshop with serious flaws. Some of them didn't even make it out of the front gates before they fell apart at the seams. Others went berserk, started talking backwards or simply exploded on the launch ramp.
Even those that didn't suffer from severe defects would rarely ever live to a ripe old age. The average life expectancy of a nun in the middle ages was just four months, due mainly to a combination of rising damp, sunspot activity and 'nunfever' - a particularly virulent disease that wasn't finally wiped out until last Wednesday.
A New Age In Nun Manufacture
The industrial revolution was to change all that. Convents - once just a place where nuns were stored when they weren't being used - harnessed new technologies to become factories, mass-producing nuns at such at an astonishing rate that for the first time in history there was a surplus. This, obviously, led to problems of its own.
Many nuns were turned loose to fend for themselves in the wild, displacing populations of native woodland creatures such as the red squirrel. New pesticides were introduced to control their numbers, along with organised hunts and aerial bombing from zeppelins. The introduction of the Nun Tax also served as a disincentive to production and soon numbers were down to manageable levels.
How Holy is Your Nun?
Overpopulation isn't the only concern. Quality control has traditionally been a contentious issue when it comes to nuns. Regulations state that a nun must be sufficiently holy to carry out her duties - a measurement generally referred to as her 'God Quotient' or 'GQ'. This value is determined by a number of different elements, such as environment, education and wind speed.
But the most important factor is the quality of the ingredients.
Nuns are made from a varied mix of raw materials, including granite, saltpetre, aromatic spices and a special ingredient known only to the Pope, but which many people believe to be some sort of mayonnaise.
Any impurities impact on quality and if the GQ is allowed to drop below zero, the nun will technically be evil. In days gone by these 'bad nuns' would roam the countryside, causing mayhem and eating babies, until they were finally cornered and stabbed to death with sticks, or walled up in cellars.
It's largely thanks to Roger Gimp that evil nuns are now such a rare phenomenon.
Gimp is not a devout man and when he was originally approached to design the new nun factories, he was somewhat reluctant. As a young boy, hymnbooks had always made him sneeze, cassocks brought him out in a rash and he had once been startled by a curate who had leapt out of a bush as he was on his way home from school.
In his own words, he 'didn't want to get into all that again'. Nevertheless, after being offered a fat pile of cash, he shut his mouth and got to work.
The result of his avarice is the modern nunnery we see today: efficient, economical and over eighty percent more holy than the dark satanic convents of old.
Today's nuns are less dangerous, more reliable and mostly lead-free. So let's take a moment to celebrate the work of Roger Gimp, for it is thanks to his sterling efforts that modern nuns are sedate and harmless creatures, like the ones we see in Nuns on the Run and all those other films with nuns in. Thanks Roger.