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Territorial abbot

Territorial abbot

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A territorial abbey is a type of particular church
Particular Church
In Catholic canon law, a Particular Church is an ecclesial community headed by a bishop or someone recognised as the equivalent of a bishop.There are two kinds of particular Churches:# Local particular Churches ...

 within the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...


Normally an abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 is the superior
Superior (hierarchy)
In a hierarchy or tree structure of any kind, a superior is an individual or position at a higher level in the hierarchy than another , and thus closer to the apex. It is often used in business terminology to refer to people who are supervisors and in the military to people who are higher in the...

 of an abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 (a monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

), and exercises authority over a religious family of monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s. His authority extends only as far as the monastery's walls, or only to the monks who have taken their vows
Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by...

 in his monastery. A territorial abbot - also called an abbot nullius diœceseos, Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 "belonging to no diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

", or abbreviated
abbot nullius
- functions additionally as the ecclesiastical ordinary
In those hierarchically organised churches of Western Christianity which have an ecclesiastical law system, an ordinary is an officer of the church who by reason of office has ordinary power to execute the church's laws...

 for the Catholics and parishes within a defined territory around the monastery, in much the same way a bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 does for a diocese.

The practice arose in part because abbeys served the spiritual needs of Catholics who lived near the monastery, especially in mission territories. The monastery's own chapel was a space of public worship for the laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 who had settled nearby, and the monks could also serve as parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 in churches near the monastery. The abbot of the monastery, although having received only the priesthood
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

 in the sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Holy Orders
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

, was invested with the same administrative authority under canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 as a diocesan bishop for a given territory around the abbey. Thus, with the exception of conferring ordination on priests, the abbot could do almost everything a diocesan bishop would for those under his care, including incardinate (that is, enroll under his jurisdiction) even non-monastic priests and deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s for service in parishes.

Though territorial (like other) abbots are elected by the monks of their abbey, a territorial abbot can only receive the abbatial blessing and be installed under mandate from the pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, just as a bishop cannot be ordained and installed as ordinary of a diocese without such a mandate.

After the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

, more emphasis has been placed on the unique nature of the episcopacy and on the traditional organization of the church into dioceses under bishops. As such, abbeys nullius have been phased out in favor of the erection of new dioceses or the absorption of the territory into an existing diocese. A few ancient abbeys nullius still exist in Europe, and one in Korea.

List of territorial abbeys

There are 11 remaining territorial abbeys, as listed in the Annuario Pontificio
Annuario Pontificio
The Annuario Pontificio is the annual directory of the Holy See. It lists all the popes to date and all officials of the Holy See's departments...

 of the Vatican:
  • Maria Einsiedeln
    Einsiedeln Abbey
    Einsiedeln Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the town of Einsiedeln in the Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland. The abbey is dedicated to Our Lady of the Hermits, the title being derived from the circumstances of its foundation, from which the name Einsiedeln is also said to have originated...

    , Switzerland
  • Montecassino, Italy
  • Monte Oliveto Maggiore
    Territorial Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
    The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is a large Benedictine monastery in the Italian region of Tuscany, 10 km south of Asciano. Its buildings, which are mostly of red brick, are conspicuous against the grey clayey and sandy soil—the Crete senesi which give this area of Tuscany its name.It is a...

    , Italy
  • Montevergine
    Territorial Abbey of Montevergine
    The Territorial Abbey of Montevergine is a Roman Catholic territorial abbey located in the city of Montevergine in the Ecclesiastical province of Benevento in Italy.-History:...

    , Italy
  • Pannonhalma
    Pannonhalma Archabbey
    The Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey is the most notable landmark in Pannonhalma and one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary, founded in the year 996. It is located near the town, on top of a hill...

    , Hungary
  • Saint-Maurice, Switzerland
  • Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, Italy
  • Santissima Trinità di Cava de' Tirreni, Italy
  • Subiaco, Italy
  • Tŏkwon/Deokwon/덕원, North Korea
    North Korea
    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

    • Ecclesiastically united with South Korea
      South Korea
      The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

      , Tŏkwon had been vacant for over fifty years until 2005, when Fr. Francis Ri was appointed as the abbot. It has not been united with any diocese in either South Korea or North Korea due to the effective vacancy of the ones in North Korea and the lack of effective jurisdiction applied by the South Korean church.
  • Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey
    Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey
    Wettingen-Mehrerau Territorial Abbey is a Cistercian monastery located at Mehrerau on the outskirts of Bregenz in Vorarlberg, Austria...

    , Austria

In Italy the following abbeys have been united with a diocese:
  • Farfa (united with the Diocese of Sabina–Poggio Mirteto) in Italy
  • Fontevivo
    Fontevivo is a comune in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 100 km northwest of Bologna and about 14 km northwest of Parma...

     (united with the Diocese of Parma
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Parma
    The Italian Catholic diocese of Parma has properly been called diocese of Parma since 1892. Its see is Parma Cathedral. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola.-History:...

  • Pomposa
    Pomposa Abbey
    Pomposa Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the comune of Codigoro near Ferrara, Italy. It was one of the most important in northern Italy, famous for the Carolingian manuscripts preserved in its rich library, one of the wealthiest of Carolingian repositories, and for the Romanesque buildings.The...

     (united with the Archdiocese of Ferrara–Comacchio
    Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio
    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio has existed since 1986, when the diocese of Comacchio was combined with the historical archdiocese of Ferrara. It is a suffragan of the archdiocese of Bologna. Ferrara became an archdiocese, though without suffragans, in 1735...

  • San Columbano (united with the Piacenza–Bobbio)
  • San Martino al Monte Cimino (united with the Diocese of Viterbo
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Viterbo
    The Roman Catholic diocese of Viterbo is a Catholic ecclesiastical territory in central Italy. It was called historically the diocese of Viterbo e Tuscania. Its name was changed to diocese of Viterbo, Acquapendente, Bagnoregio, Montefiascone, Tuscania e San Martino al Monte Cimino in 1986, and...

  • San Michele Arcangelo di Montescaglioso (united with the Archdiocese of Matera–Irsina
    Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Matera-Irsina
    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Matera-Irsina, in Basilicata, Italy, has existed under this name since 1986. The archbishop is seated at Matera Cathedral....

  • San Salvatore Maggiore (united with the Diocese of Rieti
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Rieti
    The Diocese of Rieti is a See of the Catholic Church in Italy. It is suffragan of Rome.-External links:* *...

  • Santa Maria di Polsi (united with the Diocese of Locri–Gerace)
  • Santissimo Salvatore (united with the Archdiocese of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela
    Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela
    The Archdiocese of Messina was originally founded as the Diocese of Messina but was raised to the level of an archdiocese on September 30, 1986 with the merging with the former Diocese of Lipari and Prelatura of Santa Lucia del Mela , and as suffragans the Diocese of Patti and Diocese of Nicosia...


In other European countries:
  • Cluny
    Cluny Abbey
    Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

     (in Burgundy; now united with the Diocese of Autun) is the only one in France. Historically Cluny was the mother house of the Congregation of Cluny as a result of the Cluniac monastic reform of the 11th century, primarily in that it removed many Benedictine
    Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

     abbeys under its jurisdiction from local feudal allegiances (hence establishing their independence) and had new ones founded. It became extremely rich and influential within and beyond the Church.

Historically there have been more, such as
  • St. Peter-Muenster, which from 1921 until 1998 served a remote area of Saskatchewan
    Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

    , Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     (the abbey still exists, but its territorial jurisdiction and duties were absorbed by the Diocese of Saskatoon).
  • St. Alexander Orosci, enclaved in the Albanian Diocese of Alessio
  • Pinerolo
    Pinerolo is a town and comune in north-western Italy, 40 kilometres southwest of Turin on the river Chisone.-History:In the Middle Ages, the town of Pinerolo was one of the main crossroads in Italy, and was therefore one of the principal fortresses of the dukes of Savoy. Its military importance...

    , a prince-abbacy in Piedmont
    Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

     later transformed into a bishopric.
  • Abbey of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
    Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
    The Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls , commonly known as St Paul's Outside the Walls, is one of four churches that are the great ancient major basilicas or papal basilicas of Rome: the basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Peter's and Saint Paul Outside the Walls...

     in Rome (jurisdiction passed to a newly named archpriest in 2005).
  • Belmont Abbey
    Belmont Abbey, North Carolina
    Mary Help of Christians Abbey, better known as Belmont Abbey, is a small community of Benedictine monks in the town of Belmont, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, in the United States. Founded by Bishop Leo Haid in 1876, it is the daughter abbey to St. Vincent's Abbey in Latrobe,...

    - Mary, Help of Christians, which was the territorial abbey of half of North Carolina from 1910 until 1960, when it lost its last extra-abbatial territory. It was formally suppressed as a territorial abbey in 1977.

External links