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It is of course needless to say that this obedience did not extend to the commission of evil, even were any such command ever imposed (Gasquet, English Monastic Life , London, 1904, p. The obedience shown to the Abbot is regarded as obedience paid to God Himself, and all the respect and reverence with which he is treated by the brethren of his house is paid him for Christ's love, because as abbot -- father -- he is the representative of Christ in the midst of the brethren.The whole government of a religious house depends upon the Abbot.
All the officials who are to assist him in the government of the house, are appointed by him and have their authority from him. The Abbot, by virtue of his office, administers the temporal possessions of the community, exercises a general supervision for the maintenance of monastic discipline, provides for the keeping of the Rule, punishes and, if need be, excommunicates the refractory, presides in choir during the recitation of the Office, and at Divine Service, and gives the blessings.From the East the word passed over to the West, and here it was soon received into general use to designate the superior of an abbey or a monastery. Cassian, who at the beginning of the fifth century had transplanted Egyptian monachism to Gaul, was addressed as Abbas , Pater , and Dominus ; he himself termed the superior of the monastery Praepositus . Benedict of Nursia, gave it the definite form and constitution which ultimately assured its triumph in the West.Benedict were united under the presidency of an "Abbot Primate" ( Leo XIII , Summum semper , 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.When the monasteries in which the same regular observance is followed, or the abbeys of the same province, district, or country form a congregation, i.e.
a federation of houses to promote the general interest of the order, the presiding Abbot is styled the "Abbot President", or the "Abbot General." Thus, the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance has at its head an Abbot General; the English Congregation, the American-Cassinese, and the American-Swiss, have each an Abbot President.
Paul extra Muros ( 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 exempt is, strictly speaking, not applied to an Abbot nullius , because his jurisdiction is entirely extraterritorial.
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 ( praelatus quasi nullius dioecesis ) and his exemption is termed active ( exemptio activa ).
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 vere nullius dioecesis (of no diocese) and, excepting a few rights only, for the exercise of which the ordo episcopalis is required, his authority is in all things equal to that of a bishop.
The word praepositus , in the signification of a monastic ruler, appears also in Roman Africa and elsewhere in the West, but towards the close of the fifth century it had been almost entirely supplanted by the term abbas . Benedict, in his Rule, written about 529, assigned a subordinate position in the community to the praepositus , and restricted the use of the title abbas to the superior of the monastery.