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PRIOR

A monastic superior. Before the thirteenth century the superior as prior could be an abbot, dean, provost, or just one advanced in years. The term is used in this sense in St. Benedict's rule. Where the monastery was a dependency of an abbey, the prior was obedientiary (prior simplex). The Carmelites, Servites, and Augustinian Hermits have three grades of prior: conventual, provincial, and prior general. (Etym. Latin prior, former, first, superior.)

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

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