Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/46

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community's professed members in sacris. To be eligible he must have all the qualifications required by the canons of the Church. It is furthermore necessary that he should be a priest, a professed member of the order, of legitimate birth, and at least twenty-five years of age. The election, to be valid, must be held in the manner prescribed by the common law of the Church (cf. "Quia propter.—De elect.," I, 6; and Conc. Trid., sess. XXV, c. vi, De reg.), and as determined in the statutes or constitutions of each congregation. In the English and American congregations the Abbot of a monastery is elected for life by a two-thirds vote of the professed members in sacris of the chapter. The Abbots themselves elect the abbot president. Exempt abbeys under the immediate jurisdiction of the Pope must, within the space of a month, apply to the Holy See for a confirmation of the election; non-exempt houses, within three months, to the bishop of the diocese. The confirmation confers upon the Abbot-elect the jus in re, and having obtained it he enters at once upon the duties and privileges of his office. A canonical perpetuity attaches to the abbatial dignity; semel abhas, semper abbas; and even after a resignation the dignity endures, and the title is retained. Benedictine abbeys in the United States and in England enjoy exemption; for America, the newly-elected Abbots are confirmed directly by the Pope; in England, however, according to the recent Constitution, "Diu quidem est" (1899), they are confirmed by the Abbot President in the name of the Holy See.

V. Benediction of the Abbot.—After his ecclesiastical confirmation, the newly elected Abbot is solemnly blessed according to the rite prescribed in the "Pontificale Romanum" (De benedictione Abbatis). By the Constitution of Benedict XIII, "Commissi Nobis," 6 May, 1725, all Regular Abbots elected for life are now obliged to receive this blessing (or, at least, to thrice formally request it) within the space of a year, from the bishop of the diocese; if they fail to have the ceremony performed within the required time, they incur ipso jure a suspension from office for the period of one year. Should the petition be refused for the third time, either by the diocesan or the metropolitan, an Abbot is free to receive benediction from any bishop in communion with Rome. The Constitution at the same time expressly declares that the Abbot-elect may licitly and validly perform all the duties of his office during the interval preceding his solemn benediction. It must be noted, however, that the legislation enforced by Benedict XIII does not affect those Abbots who are privileged to receive the blessing from their regular superiors, nor those who by their election and confirmation are ipso facto regarded as blessed by the Pope. The blessing is not in se essential for the exercise of an Abbot's order and office; it confers no additional jurisdiction, and imparts no sacramental grace or character. An Abbot nullius may call upon any bishop in union with the Holy See to bestow the abbatial blessing. By the recent Constitution of Leo XIII, "Diu quidem est," 1899, the Abbots of the English Congregation are bound within six months of their election to present themselves to the ordinary of the diocese to be blessed by Apostolical authority; and, if the diocesan be prevented, they can receive the blessing from any Catholic bishop.

The ceremony, which in solemnity differs but slightly from that of a bishop's consecration, takes place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, after the Epistle. The essentials of the episcopal order are of course omitted, but before his benediction the Abbot takes the oath of allegiance to the Holy See and, like the bishop, is subjected to a canonical examination. He receives the insignia of his office—the mitre, crosier, ring, etc.—from the hands of the officiating prelate, and at the Offertory presents to him two small casks of wine, two loaves of bread, and two large wax tapers; he says the Mass with the bishop and receives Holy Communion from him. During the singing of the Te Deum the newly blessed Abbot, with mitre and crosier, is conducted through the nave of the church by the two assistant Abbots, and blesses the people. Upon his returning to his seat in the sanctuary (if in his own church), the monks of the community come, one by one, and, kneeling before their new superior, pay him their homage, and receive from him the kiss of peace. The ceremony is concluded by a solemn blessing bestowed by the newly installed Abbot standing at the High Altar. According to the "Pontificale Romanum," the day set apart for the function ought to be a Sunday or a feast day. The solemn rite of benediction, once conferred, need not be again received when an Abbot is translated from one monastery to another.

VI. Authority of the Abbot.—The authority of an Abbot is of two kinds, one relating to the external government of the house, the other to the spiritual government of his subjects. The first is a paternal or domestic authority, based on the nature of religious life and on the vow of obedience, the second a power of quasi-episcopal jurisdiction, by virtue of which he is truly a prelate. His domestic authority empowers the Abbot to administer the property of the abbey, to maintain the discipline of the house, to compel the religious, even by penalties, to observe the Rule and the Constitutions of the Order, and to ordain whatever else may be essential for the preservation of peace and order in the community. The power of jurisdiction which the Abbot possesses, both in joro interno and in joro externa, authorizes him to absolve his subjects from all cases of conscience not specially reserved, and to delegate this power to the priests of his monastery; to reserve to himself the eleven cases enumerated in the Constitution of Clement VIII, "Ad futurara rei memoriam;" to inflict ecclesiastical censures; and to dispense the members of his house in certain cases for which a dispensation is usually obtained from the bishop of the diocese. He cannot, of course, dispense a religious from the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Abbots, like the monks over whom they ruled, were originally laymen, and subject to the bishop of the diocese. It was not long, however, before they were enrolled in the ranks of the clergy. Towards the close of the fifth century by far the greater number of Abbots in the East had received ordination. The change was effected more slowly in the West, but even here few were found at the end of the seventh century who had not been clothed with the dignity of the priesthood. A council held at Rome, 826, under Pope Eugene II, enjoined the ordination of Abbots, but the canon seems not to have been rigidly enforced, for as late as the eleventh century we read of some who were only deacons. The Council of Poitiers (1078) finally obliged all Abbots under pain of deprivation to receive priest's orders. (Thomassin, Pt. I, I, iii, passim.) From this time forward the power and influence of Abbots steadily increased in Church and State, until towards the close of the Middle Ages their position was everywhere regarded as one of the highest distinction. In Germany eleven Abbots held rank as princes of the Empire, and with all the rights and privileges of princes took part in the deliberation of the Diets. The Abbots of Fulda exercised even sovereign power over ten square miles round the abbey. In the Parliament of England "abbots formed the bulk of the spiritual peerage. The position held by them throughout every part of the country gave yet a further weight to their great position as noblemen and local magnates. As such they went pari passu