Friday, February 6, 2009


The head of a monastery. Derived from the Aramaic abba ("father"), the term originally honored old or saintly persons. With the spread of Benedictine monasticism, it became the designation of the superior of a religious community of 12 or more monks, and was intended to express the paternal relationship of superior to inferior. With the growth of monastic wealth after the 11th century came the rise of the abbot's power, until it rivaled that of bishop and baron. Originally elected by his community, the abbot later became the appointee of prince or Pope. The Council of Trent (1543-63) curtailed the abbot's authority.

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