Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Abbey and Monastery

Abbey Vs Monastery

Even for Roman Catholic s, distinguishing between a monastery and an abbey may become a confusing task most especially that there are many misconceptions between the two. Many claim that both places are the same with the two being named differently in varied locations. Other people also suggest that a monastery is purely for monks while abbeys are solely for nuns.

Another reason for the confusion is because monasteries have become the more popular term that seemed to be described as any building or place of worship where ‘the religious ones’ like monks and nuns live. The term abbey is not much heard of compared to the monastery.

To clear out the confusion, a monastery is like the premature version of an abbey. In its simplest definition, it is basically a place where nuns, monks, clerics live a more communal lifestyle. By virtue of the power vested in the Holy Church in Rome, a monastery becomes an abbey in the same way as how a child grows to become a man or a woman. Monasteries are therefore the places where people can live a monastic kind of life.

The abbey is a bigger community of either monks or nuns. If dwelt by monks, the abbey is usually led by an abbot (the father) whereas if it is the case of the latter then it is lead by an abbess (the major superior). Technically speaking, abbeys need to have at least 12 religious dwellers unlike the monastery.

Abbey is a unique place because it is governed by abbots and abbess who have territorial leadership. They almost are in rank with a typical bishop but the latter does not have jurisdiction in abbeys unlike the abbots and abbess. Abbeys are usually walled. The entire quadrangle contains lots of individual buildings and amenities like a place for the guests, the choir, for prayer, conference area, infirmary, dining and kitchen halls, dormitories, an area for receiving alms or gifts from outsiders and even a simple parlor. Most abbeys are under the Benedictine order especially with regard to Western monasteries.

1. Abbey is the term used to describe the monk’s dwelling place according to the Benedictine order. For most of the other orders (especially the more cloistered and contemplative ones), these places are regarded as monasteries.

2. Ideally, a monastery is a more premature version of an abbey because the latter needs to have more religious dwellers or worshippers than in monasteries.

3. Either to non Catholics and Roman Catholics, monastery is a more popular term compared to abbeys.

4. The abbey is under the abbot or abbess leadership unlike the monastery.


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