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

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “abbess”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 November 2018. Web. 29 January 2022. <>