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Definitions of abbess

  1. the superior of a group of nuns Scrapingweb Dictionary DB
  2. A female superior or governess of a nunnery, or convent of nuns, having the same authority over the nuns which the abbots have over the monks. See Abbey. Webster Dictionary DB
  3. The head of a convent; the lady, or mother, superior. The Winston Simplified Dictionary. By William Dodge Lewis, Edgar Arthur Singer. Published 1919.
  4. The superior of a religious community of women. The american dictionary of the english language. By Daniel Lyons. Published 1899.
  5. Female head of a convent of nuns. The Clarendon dictionary. By William Hand Browne, Samuel Stehman Haldeman. Published 1894.
  6. The lady superior of a nunnery. Nuttall's Standard dictionary of the English language. By Nuttall, P.Austin. Published 1914.
  7. A lady placed over a nunnery. Among persons living secluded from the world in religious houses, the males are called monks, and the females nuns. The residence of a monk is called a monastery, and that of a man a nunnery. Etymological and pronouncing dictionary of the English language. By Stormonth, James, Phelp, P. H. Published 1874.
  8. ABBESS (Lat. abbatissa, fem. form of abbas, abbot), the female superior of an abbey or convent of nuns. The mode of election, position, rights and authority of an abbess correspond generally with those of an abbot (q.v.). The office is elective, the choice being by the secret votes of the sisters from their own body. The abbess is solemnly admitted to her office by episcopal benediction, together with the conferring of a staff and pectoral cross, and holds for life, though liable to be deprived for misconduct. The council of Trent fixed the qualifying age at forty, with eight years of profession. Abbesses have a right to demand absolute obedience of their nuns, over whom they exercise discipline, extending even to the power of expulsion, subject, however, to the bishop. As a female an abbess is incapable of performing the spiritual functions of' the priesthood belonging to an abbot. She cannot ordain, confer the veil, nor excommunicate. In England abbesses attended ecclesiastical councils, e.g. that of Becanfield in 694, where they signed before the presbyters.By Celtic usage abbesses presided over joint-houses of monks and nuns. This custom accompanied Celtic monastic missions to France and Spain, and even to Rome itself. At a later period, a.d. 1115, Robert, the founder of Fontevraud, committed the government of the whole order, men as well as women, to a female superior.In the German Evangelical church the title of abbess (Aebtissin) has in some cases—e.g. Itzehoe—survived to designate the heads of abbeys which since the Reformation have continued as Stifte, i.e. collegiate foundations, which provide a home and an income for unmarried ladies, generally of noble birth, called canonesses (Kanonissinen) or more usually Stiftsdamen. This office of abbess is of considerable social dignity, and is sometimes filled by princesses of the reigning houses. en.wikisource.org
  9. ab'es, n. the female superior of a religious community of women. [Earlier ABBATESS, fem. of ABBOT.] gutenberg.org/ebooks/37683
  10. Lady superior of a nunnery. [old French] Concise Oxford Dictionary
  11. n. The governess of nunnery. Cabinet Dictionary
  12. The superior of a nunnery. Complete Dictionary

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