parts of Germany, notably in Hanover, Wurtemberg, Brunswick, and Schleswig-Holstein, a number of Protestant educational establishments, and certain Lutheran sisterhoods are directed by superiors who style themselves Abbesses even to the present day. All these establishments were, at one time, Catholic convents and monasteries, and the "Abbesses" now presiding over them, are, in every instance, the Protestant successors of a former line of Catholic Abbesses. The transformation into Protestant community houses and seminaries was effected, of course, during the religious revolution of the sixteenth century, when the nuns who remained loyal to the Catholic faith were driven from the cloister, and Lutheran sisterhoods put in possession of their abbeys. In many religious communities, Protestantism was forcibly imposed on the members, while in some few, particularly in North Germany, it was voluntarily embraced. But in all these houses, where the ancient monastic offices were continued the titles of the officials were likewise retained. And thus there have been, since the sixteenth century, both Catholic and Protestant Abbesses in Germany. The Abbey of Quedlinburg was one of the first to embrace the Reformation. Its last Catholic Abbess, Magdalena, Princess of Anhalt, died in 1514. As early as 1539, the Abbess Anna II of Stolberg, who had been elected to the office when she was scarcely thirteen years of age, introduced Lutheranism in all the houses under her jurisdiction. The choir service in the abbey church was abandoned, and the Catholic religion wholly abrogated. The monastic offices were reduced to four, but the ancient official titles retained. Thereafter the institution continued as a Lutheran sisterhood till the secularization of the abbey in 1803. The last two Abbesses were the Princess Anna Amelia (d. 1787), sister of Frederick the Great, and the Princess Sophia Albertina (d. 1829), daughter of King Adolphus Frederick of Sweden. In 1542, under the Abbess Clare of the house of Brunswick, the Schmalkaldic League forcibly imposed Protestantism on the members of the ancient and venerable Benedictine Abbey of Gandersheim; but though the Lutheran intruders were driven out again in 1547 by Clare's father, Duke Henry the Younger, a loyal Catholic, Lutheranism was permanently introduced, a few years later, by Julius, Duke of Brunswick. Margaret, the last Catholic Abbess, died in 1589, and after that period Lutheran Abbesses were appointed to the foundation. These continued to enjoy the imperial privileges of their predecessors till 1802, when Gandersheim was incorporated with Brunswick. Among the houses of minor importance still in existence, the Abbey of Drübeck may be specially noticed. At one time a Catholic convent, it fell into Protestant hands during the Reformation. In 1687, the Elector Frederick William I of Brandenburg granted the revenues of the house to the Counts of Stolberg, stipulating, however, that women of noble birth and professing the Evangelical faith, should always find a home in the convent, be adequately provided for, and live there under the government of an Abbess. The wish of the Elector is apparently still respected.
Secular Abbess in Austria.—In the Hradschin of Prague, there is a noted Catholic Imperial Institute, whose directress always bears the title Abbess. The institute, now the most exclusive and the best endowed of its kind in Austria, was founded in 1755 by the Empress Maria Theresa for impoverished noblewomen of ancient lineage. The Abbess is always an Austrian Archduchess, and must be at least eighteen years of age before she can assume the duties of her office. Her insignia are a pectoral cross, the ring, the staff, and a princely cornet. It was formerly an exclusive privilege of this Abbess to crown the Queen of Bohemia—a ceremony last performed in 1808, for the Empress Maria Louisa. Candidates for admission to the Institute must be twenty-nine years of age, of irreproachable morals and able to trace back their noble ancestry, paternal and maternal, for eight generations. They make no vows, but live in community and are obliged to assist twice daily at divine service in the Stiftskirche, and must go to confession and receive Holy Communion four times a year on appointed days. They are all Hoffähig.
Number and Distribution, by Countries, of Abbesses.—The Abbesses of the Black Benedictines number at present 120. Of these there are 71 in Italy, 15 in Spain, 12 in Austro-Hungary, 11 in France (before the Associations Law), 4 in England, 3 in Belgium, 2 in Germany, and 2 in Switzerland. The Cistercians of all Observances have a total of 77 Abbesses. Of these 74 belong to the Cistercians of the Common Observance, who have most of their houses in Spain and in Italy. The Cistercians of the Strict Observance have 2 Abbesses in France and 1 in Germany. There are no Abbesses in the United States. In England the superior of the following houses are Abbesses: St. Mary's Abbey, Stanbrook, Worcester: St. Mary's Abbey, East Bergholt, Suffolk; St. Mary's Abbey, Oulton, Staffordshire; St. Scholastica's Abbey, Teignmouth, Devon; St. Bridget's Abbey of Syon, Chudleigh, Devon (Brigittine); St. Clare's Abbey, Darlington, Durham (Poor Clares). In Ireland: Convent of Poor Clares, Ballyjamesduff.
Montalembert, The Monks of the West (Gasquet's ed., in 6 vols., New York, 1896), Bk. XV; Gasquet, English Monastic Life (London, 1808), viii; Taunton, The English Black Monks of St. Benedict (London, 1808), I, vi; Taunton, The Law of the Church (St. Louis, 1906); Eckenstein, Women under Monasticism (London 1896); Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca Canonica (Rome 1885); Bizzari, Collectanea S. C. Episc. Et Reg. (Rome 1885); Petra, Comment. ad Constitut. Apostolicas (Rome 1705); Thomassini, Vetus et Nova Ecclesia Disciplina (Mainz, 1787); Fagnani, Jus Conon., s. Comment. in Decret. (Cologne, 1704); Tamburini, De jure et privilegiis abbat. pralat., abbatiss., et monial. (Cologne, 1691); Laurain, De l'interrention des laïques, des diacres et des abbesses dans l'administration de la pénitence (Paris, 1897); Sägmuller, Lehrbuch des katholischen Kirchenrechts (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1904).
Abbey.—A monastery canonically erected and autonomous, with a community of not fewer than twelve religious; monks under the government of an abbot; nuns under that of an abbess. An autonomous priory is ruled by a superior who bears the title of prior instead of that of abbot; but this distinction was unknown in the first centuries of monastic history. Such were the twelve great cathedral priories of England, immediately governed by a prior, the diocesan being considered the abbot. Other priories were founded as cells, or offshoots from the great abbeys, and remained dependent on the parent house, by whose abbot the prior was appointed, and was removable at will. Originally the term monastery designated, both in the East and in the West, the dwelling either of a solitary or of a community; while cœnobium, congregatio, fraternitas, asceterion, etc. were applied solely to the houses of communities. Monasteries took their names from either their locality, their founders, or from some monk whose life has shed lustre upon them; and later, from some saint whose relics were there preserved, or who was locally an object of special veneration. The monks of Egypt and Palestine, as may be gathered from the "Peregrinatio Etheriæ," also selected for their monasteries sites famous for their connection with some biblical event or personage. The first monks generally settled in solitary places, away from the haunts of men, though sometimes they were to be found also in cities like Alexandria, Rome, Carthage, and Hippo. Monasteries, founded in country places, not infrequently