In a monastery, the porter is the monk (or portress for a nun) appointed to be the one who interacts with the public. It is considered an important office, as the porter is the representative of the community to the outside world.
The Rule of St. Benedict, in Chapter 66, gives specific advice as to the qualifications of the person chosen to serve in this post. In keeping with this advice, the porter is usually given private quarters right at the entrance to the monastery, which can lie some distance from the cloister, thus the need for a very responsible person to fill this position.
Among Franciscan communities, a large portion of the lay brothers who have achieved sainthood had spent their lives in the office of porter of the community, Saints Paschal Baylon, O.F.M., and Felix of Cantalice, O.F.M. Cap., are examples. There is also the current American candidate for canonization, Fr. Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap., who was a Catholic priest, but, due to the limitations of his academic capabilities, served as a porter in both Detroit and New York City for over 30 years.
- Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) "Porter"