Difference Between Abbey and Priory

 There are many religious practices all over the world. There are different rituals for different religions. Different religions have different worship places like temples, churches, mosques, gurdwara, etc.

In Christianity, there are two religious facilities like abbey and monastery. Though people use these terms as synonyms, they both are different.

Abbey and Priory are the monasteries of the Christian, and both have their own importance in the religion.

Abbey vs Priory

The main difference between Abbey and Priory is that abbey is led by an abbess or an abbot, whereas a priory is led by a prior or a prioress, which is a subordinate to the leader of the abbey called an abbess or an abbot.

Abbey and Priory 1

Abbey is a monastery that translates to father or nunnery. The leader of an abbey is either an abbess or an abbot. Abbey is a holy religious structure for the people who follows Christianity and is a place where all the religious activities happen. 

Priory is a monastery church which further translates to Seat. The leader of a priory is either a prior or a prioress. The leader of the priory is subordinate to the leader of an abbey. It is just a place for worship.

Comparison Table Between Abbey and Priory

Parameters of comparisonAbbeyPriory
Latin wordThe Latin word for Abbey is Abbatia.The Latin word for Priory is Cathedra.
MeaningAbbey or Abbatia means Father or Nunnery.Priory or Cathedra means Seat.
LeaderThe leader of the abbey is either an abbess or an abbot.The leader of a priory is either a prior or a prioress.
Monastery/ChurchAbbey is more like a monastery.Priory is like a monastery church.
PurposeAbbey has many purposes.Priory is only for worship.
Number of monksAn abbey must have a minimum of 12 monks.A priory does not say anything about the exact number of monks.

What is Abbey?

Abbey is derived from the Latin word ‘abbatia’, which further tranaslates to father or nunnery.

Abbey is a monastery that means that they can be used interchangeably. The leader is called abbot (spiritual father) or abbess (spiritual mother) depending on who is the leader, a Christian monk or a nun.

This is a religious place where the monks and nuns live. An abbot and an abbess have the same monastic as that of a bishop.

The monks and the nuns living in an Abbey live isolated from society. They are themselves responsible for the food they eat and for the clothes they wear. They also work for the improvement of society by helping needy people.

They also guide people and pave their way through to reach divinity.

It is a place that must have 12 or more monks. It is a holy place for the people who follow Christianity. It is a space or a building where religious works or activities take place. It comprises of different purposes.

People discontinued using this term because it caused huge confusion because it is a place where the nuns and the monks live.

What is Priory?

Priory is derived from the Latin word cathedra, which further translates to Seat.

Priory is a sub-ordinate to Abbey. A priory is a monastery of the monks and the nuns.

The leader who rules a Priory is called a Prior or Prioress, depending on who the leader is. A prior or a prioress is a subordinate to an abbot or an abbess, making them equivalent to a bishop. The leader of the priory wears a type of cross around their necks.

The leader of a priory is chosen in two ways. One is the leader chosen by the monks or nuns who votes for their respective leader, or the leader is a subject to the will of the leader of the Abbey.

There are two types of Priories: a conventual Priory and a dependent priory. A conventual priory is an autonomous priory, whereas a dependent priory is a dependent priory on an abbey or a motherhouse.

It is home to many religious fraternities.

Main Differences Between Abbey and Priory

  1. Abbey is derived from the Latin word Abbatia whereas priory is derived from the Latin word cathedra.
  2. Abbey in Latin means father or nunnery, whereas priory in Latin means Seat.
  3. Abbey is led by an abbess or an abbot, whereas priory is led by a prior or a prioress.
  4. Abbey is a holy place or a structure where religious activities take place, whereas a priory is a structure or a place to worship only.
  5. The monks and the nuns are of an Abbey are led by an abbess or an abbot, whereas the monks and the nuns are leaded by a prior or a prioress.
  6. A Priory is a subordinate to an Abbey.
  7. The leader of an abbey is chosen among themselves and is clarified by the Bishop of the Diocese, whereas the leader of a priory is chosen in two ways.
  8. An abbey is a place that gives residence to some nuns and monks, whereas a priory is just a place of worship.
  9. An abbey is a place where there should be more than 12 monks, whereas the priory does not say the exact numbers of the monks.
Difference Between Abbey and Priory

Conclusion

An abbey and a priory are Christian religious places for Catholics. People get confused between these two terms, and they are used interchangeably.

These are structures that are full of divinity. The nuns and the monks living their guide people to the divine path and help the needy people. Both structures are important for religion. 

The buildings or the structures and their purposes have differences like an abbey is a residence place for the monks and the nuns, but a priory is just a place of worship. They are monastic churches.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Z_wUAAAAQAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR19&dq=Abbey+and+Priory&ots=j7kLxpB_Sb&sig=U9y_8hWeF9zpXSODfz8n3l_UGGs
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00681288.1894.11888363
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