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ABBESS

Feminine counterpart of abbot. The spiritual and temporal superior of a community of nuns, symbolizing her role as mother of the religious women under her care. Over the centuries an abbess has enjoyed some extraordinary privileges, such as wearing a special ring and bearing the crosier as a sign of her rank. But an abbess does not have ecclesiastical jurisdiction corresponding to that of an abbot.

See Also: ABBOT

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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