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Catholic Dictionary




Canonically erected and independent monastery with a required minimum of religious. Occupied by monks, it is ruled by an abbot; if by nuns, ruled by an abbess. With the exception of Carthusian abbeys, which provide cottages for individual monks, most abbey buildings are constructed around a quadrangle and comprise a novitiate, guest house, choir, conference room, infirmary, kitchen, refectory, cells, dormitory, oratory for prayer, almonry for alms distribution, cellars for storage, calefactory (or warming room), locutory (or parlor), and a chapter house for business and private meetings with the superior. Most abbeys are either Benedictine or Cistercian.