Taken from the late Latin and Greek abbas
and the Aramaic abba
, for “father,” the term abbot
refers to the superior of a community of monks (an abbey
). Early abbots may have been appointed by the Church or by their predecessors, but as time went on, abbots were elected from among their fellow monks in a secret ballot. By the High Middle Ages, a monk had to be at least thirty and have been a monk for ten years to be eligible to lead the abbey. Abbots and their female counterparts, abbesses
, serve for life.
Common Misspellings: abott, abbott
of Bec, Normandy, before he went to England and became Archbishop of Canterbury.