7 September 2018

A Right Reverend Abbess ... (1)

In England, bishops are not Most Reverend as they are in the Irish Empire; in their natural modesty Anglobishops are merely Right Reverend (unless they are Metropolitan Archbishops, when they do get a bit moster). And Benedictine abbesses by Tradition have precisely the same dignity as a diocesan bishop. "The Right Reverend the Lady Abbess of A" precisely parallels "The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of B".

For completeness, I will add that fully professed Benedictine Choir nuns have in England historically had the title Dame (= Domina), just as Benedictine monks are Dom (= Domnus = Dominus). In Medieval England, 'Dame' was often used for the wives of knights or noblemen. In modern England, the style Dame is now used as the equivalent of Sir ... you talk about X having received his knighthood or Y having got her damehood. I wonder if the British Establishment asked permission from the Order of S Benedict before usurping their title in this rather cheeky way.

And now the United States of North America are to have their own Right Reverend Lady Abbess ... thought to be first ever. At Gower in Missouri, next Monday, Mother Caecilia, hitherto Prioress, will be blessed as an Abbess , and some of her sisters will be professed. This will complete a fantastic weekend in which the brand new Abbey Church of our Lady of Ephesus will have been consecrated. Sancta Maria, Regina Apostolorum, ora pro eis, ora pro nobis, ora pro Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

I hope on Sunday to offer a few words about the Rite of Consecration of an Abbess in the Tridentine Pontifical.

10 comments:

job said...

Is there not a Lady Abbess at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem CT? This is an foundation from the Abbey of Jouare in France. There was a film made concerning the foundation Come to the Stable. And under the Lady Abbess for a number of years the Lady Prioress is or was Dolores Hart, who had been a film actress beforehand.

Tom Broughton said...

Moster? What does that mean?

Victor said...

@Tom Broughton: I think Father means "more most"

vetusta ecclesia said...



In The Stripping of the Altars Duffy refers to Parish Priests as Sir + Christian name + surname , as in the usage for dubbed Knights.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

Tom, Father means that Metropolitan Archbishops are the Most Reverend, not Right Reverend.

Michael R. said...

More "most" reverend than "right" reverend, presumably. As in the Irish Empire. 😄

A Daughter of Mary said...

Father, a reminder for your readers who may be interested, these Benedictines who will be blessed with an Abbess accept Oblates and have a good program for them - all Traditional, of course.

Alan said...

The usage mentioned by Duffy - also in Voices of Morebath, detailing the long ministry of Sir Christopher Trychay - is of course mirrored in the Italian practice of addressing secular priests as "Don".

Michael Doyle said...

She is the third American Benedictine abbess, Father, following the Lady Abbesses of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, Colorado.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Sorry: I should have said "the first Abbess blessed according to the pre-Conciliar Pontifical". Which is what I read on Rotate. Would that have been right?