Difference Between Abbey and Monastery

Abbey and monastery are two religious facilities in Christianity. Often people use the two terms as synonyms, but these are two different structures.


Religion Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to religion

1 / 5

Who is the final prophet of Islam?

2 / 5

What is the name of the voluntary donations that Muslim may choose to give (in addition to Zakah)?

3 / 5

What do hindus aim to achieve?

4 / 5

What was the name of the person who first started spreading Christianity around the Roman empire?

5 / 5

What is the story: 'Ramayana' about?

Your score is


In many places, abbeys are called monasteries, and this is where the confusion arises. A monastery is the pre-stage of a building to become an abbey.

Abbey vs Monastery

Abbey is a home for a religious fraternity, but a monastery is a home for the monks. All abbeys are monasteries, but all monasteries are not abbeys. Monasteries become abbeys with time as the holy church of Italy bestow the reputation on them.

Abbey vs Monastery

The term abbey implies father. An abbey is a sacred place where religious fraternity lives, and they are led by an abbot who is a spiritual leader of a Christian community of a place.

In many places, the abbey is called a monastery.

A monastery is a home or hermitage for monks. It is like a convent for men who live an isolated monastic life and get called monks.

Women have separate monasteries, too, women who have dedicated their lives to religious works, teaching, and preaching. These are called nunneries.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAbbeyMonastery
EtymologyAbbey is derived from Latin ‘abbatia’ or ‘Abramic abba’.The monastery is derived from the Greek word ‘monazein’.
MeaningThe meaning of abbey is the father.The meaning of a monastery is to live alone.
ResidenceAn abbey is a home for a religious fraternity.A monastery is a home for a religious fraternity leading an ascetic life, which means it is home for monks.
LeaderAn abbey is led by an abbot.The monastery does not have a leader.
PopularityComparatively, abbeys are not as popular as a monastery.To Catholics and Roman Catholics, the monastery is more popular.

What is Abbey?

The term abbey means a father who comes from the Latin word ‘abbatia’ or ‘Abramic abba’. This is the residence of a religious fraternity.

Every abbey has a leader. The leader of the monks is called an abbot, and the leader of the nuns is called an abbess.

Their status is almost the same as the rank of the bishop. Abbot and abbess also guide the common people who belong to the Christian religion of that place to practice religion as well.

Before becoming an abbey, the structure is known as a monastery. It is turned into an abbey by the holy church of Italy.

An abbey is the office of an abbot or abbess, and it is also used to spread the religion and also teach and train young monks and priests.

It is a holy structure of Christianity. An abbey is not just a church or a place of worship, but it is also used for religious activities and also to help the people of that particular place to reach divinity.

The best instance of the abbey is the Westminster Abbey.


What is Monastery?

Generally, monks live in isolated huts, and they used to came together for meals and prayer. Over the period, this developed into a convent which is now known as a monastery.

Both men and women have their separate monasteries. Monks and nuns living in a monastery are detached from the outer world, and they dedicate their lives to religion and religious teachings.

Not only Christianity, but other religions use this term as well. In many religions, a monastery is a place for monks and priests to reside.

The word monastery is widely used in Buddhism. It is a residence for monks to live and worship.

They also teach and preach religion and religious rituals there. A monastery is like a temple or an ashram where monks or priests live and serve the religion.

Before becoming an abbey, it is a monastery. The religious building is called a monastery before it becomes an abbey.

A monastery is a pre-stage of an abbey. A monastery can be turned into an abbey by the holy church of Italy.


Main Differences Between Abbey and Monastery

  1. An abbey is a home for a religious fraternity or priests. Whereas a monastery is a home for a religious fraternity who are leading an ascetic life, which means they are monks.
  2. The word abbey has been originated from Latin, and the term monastery has been originated from the Greek language.
  3. The word abbey comes from the Latin word, ‘abbatia’ or ‘Abramic abba’, which implies the word, father. On the other hand, the word monastery has come from the Greek word ‘monazein’ that means to live alone as monks are supposed to live an isolated life.
  4. On the one hand, an abbey has a religious leader who led the abbey as well as the Christian community of that place. This leader is called an abbot. And on the other hand, a monastery does not have any kind of leader.
  5. To Catholics and Roman Catholics, the word monastery is more popular and much used. But the word abbey is comparatively less popular among the Roman Catholics.
Difference Between Abbey and Monastery


  1. http://soas.is.ed.ac.uk/index.php/psas/article/download/10036/10003
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00794236.2020.1812889
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️