Benedict of Nursia, gave it the definite form and constitution which ultimately assured its triumph in the West.
By the middle of the fourth century monachism had also made its appearance in Europe, and here, at the beginning of the sixth, St.
Regular Abbots are prelates in the full sense of the word, and their dignity is of three grades.
An Abbot who presides only over such persons, ecclesiastical and lay, as are attached to his monastery, belongs to the lowest grade, and his jurisdiction carries with it what is called the simple passive exemption () from the authority of the diocesan bishop.
The group provides companionship for members through meetings, service involvements, local and international travel, and social activities during the week and weekends.
In Syria, where it had its origin, and in Egypt, it was first employed as a title of honour and respect, and was given to any monk of venerable age or of eminent sanctity. Both names have, however, been permanently retained, and are to this day the titles given to monastic superiors in the Eastern Church.
Paul (Rome); that of Monte Vergine near Avellino, founded by St. All exempt abbeys, no matter what the canonical title or degree of their exemption, are under the immediate jurisdiction of the Holy See.
William of Vercelli in 1124; and the abbey of the Most Holy Trinity at Cava, dating back to 1011; in Switzerland, the abbey of Einsiedeln, founded about 934; in Hungary (Austria), the arch-abbey of St. The term , because his jurisdiction is entirely extraterritorial.
Upon the Abbot therefore, as upon the father of a family, devolves the government and direction of those who are committed to his care, and a paternal solicitude should characterize his rule. Benedict says that "an abbot who is worthy to have the charge of a monastery ought always to remember by what title he is called," and that "in the monastery he is considered to represent the person of Christ, seeing that he is called by His name" (Rule of St. Though the Rule gives directions as to an abbot's government, and furnishes him with principles upon which to act, and binds him to carry out certain prescriptions as to consultation with others in difficult matters etc., the subject is told to obey without question or hesitation the decision of the superior.
Benedict were united under the presidency of an "Abbot Primate" (Leo XIII, , 12 July, 1893); but the unification, fraternal in its nature, brought no modification to the abbatial dignity, and the various congregations preserved their autonomy intact.
The powers of the Abbot Primate are specified, and his position defined, in a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars dated 16 September, 1893.
If an Abbot's jurisdiction extends beyond the limits of his abbey, over the inhabitants clergy and laity of a certain district or territory which forms an integral part of a bishop's diocese, he belongs to the middle grade ().
And when an Abbot has jurisdiction over the clergy and laity of a district or territory (comprising one or several cities and places) which forms no part whatever of any diocese, his abbey is styled in the United States or in England.
The title did not originally imply the exercise of any authority over a religious community. Cassian, who at the beginning of the fifth century had transplanted Egyptian monachism to Gaul, was addressed as was definitely fixed, and its use made general in the West. Benedict's conception of a monastic community was distinctly that of a spiritual family.