Difference Between Abbey and Cathedral

Globally there are numerous religions practiced. The beliefs, rituals, practices, etc., are much more different from every other religion.

Abbey vs Cathedral

The main difference between Abbey and Cathedral is that Abbey is a place where it serves many functions, while in a Cathedral, it is more often used for worship only. The leader of the Abbey is an abbot, while on the other hand, the leader of the cathedral is a bishop or pope.

Abbey vs Cathedral

Abbey is another kind of monastery where the leader is known as abbot or abbess. An abbey is a religious place where Christian monks and nuns live.

Cathedral is used as a synonym for the church across the world. And to be precisely defining a cathedral, it can be stated that a place with a set for bishop or pop is a cathedral.

Comparison Table Between Abbey and Cathedral

Parameters of ComparisonAbbeyCathedral
Etymology Latin word ‘abbatia’Latin word ‘cathedra’
MeaningMeans FatherMeans Seat
Leader AbbotBishop
More Like MonasteryChurch
PurposeServes various functionsWorship only

What is Abbey?

Abbey is a place where Christian monks and nuns used to live in. It is considered as same as monasteries. That is why they both are used synonymously.

Some of them like have a separate monastery of its own, a convent, a place where all the gifts are received from the offerors, a separate place for worship, a place for religious activities and functions, and many more.

If the in charge of the place or abbey is a Christian monk is called abbot (spiritual father), but if by a nun, it is known as abbess (spiritual mother).

What is Cathedral?

Cathedral is referred to as a Christian church that also has a seat for bishop or pop. The cathedrals are more often like a church. That is why they are synonymously used for one another.

Also, a cathedral with a seat of bishop or pop is considered as the central church of the given particular area and is responsible for the fulfillment of the religious need.

The difference between the church and a cathedral is just the administrative part, which is given to a cathedral, not to a church.

Main Differences Between Abbey and Cathedral

  1. An abbey is more referred to as a monastery, while the cathedral is more like a church.
  2. The purpose of the abbey is to serve many functions, while the cathedral is only used for worship. 
Difference Between Abbey and Cathedral


An abbey and the cathedral both are religious places for the Catholics. Sometimes even Catholics get confused between their religious buildings or place.

An abbey is more often a place like a monastery that offers a residence to the nun and the Christian monks. While a cathedral does not offer such a thing, it is just a place for worship.


  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/766867?journalCode=ges
  2. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/eb058206/full/html
  3. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7208/9780226668208-005/html
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00665983.1890.10852430?journalCode=raij20
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