Feminine of the word abbot. Spiritual and temporal superior of a community of twelve or more nuns, signifying that the superior is like a mother to the community. The title is in use among Benedictines, Poor Clares, and certain colleges of canonesses. An abbess as a rule has a right to wear a ring, and bears the crosier as a symbol of her rank, but has not the jurisdiction belonging to abbots.

In art

Abbesses Profiled on this Site

MLA Citation

  • “abbess”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 April 2012. Web. 23 February 2018. <>