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Definition: The abbess was the female counterpart of the abbot; she governed a monastic community of nuns, and sometimes a double monastery (both monks and nuns, living separate lives in contiguous establishments, using the same church). A monastic had to be at least 40 years old and a nun for ten years to be eligible to become an abbess, and was elected to the office by the nuns in her abbey, or convent. The abbess exercised considerable power over the sisters in her care and held her office for life, unless it was taken from her for misconduct.
Common Misspellings: abess
Heloise was Abbess at the Paraclete.
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