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ABBEY (Lat. abbatia; from Syr. abba, ...

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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 13 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ABBEY (Lat. abbatia; from Syr. abba, father), a monastery, or conventual establishment, under the government of an ABBOT or an ABBESS. A priory only differed from an abbey in that the superior bore the name of prior instead of abbot. This was the case in all the English conventual cathedrals, e.g. Canterbury, Ely, Norwich, &c., where the archbishop or bishop occupied the abbot's place, the superior of the monastery being termed prior. Other priories were originally offshoots from the larger abbeys, to the abbots of which they continued subordinate; but in later times the actual distinction between abbeys and priories was lost. The earliest Christian monastic communities (see MONASTI-c1sM) with which we are acquainted consisted of groups of cells or huts collected about a common centre, which was usually the abode of some anchorite celebrated for superior holiness or singular asceticism, but without any attempt at orderly arrangement. The formation of such communities in the East does not date from the introduction of Christianity. The example had been already set by the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutae in Egypt. In the earliest age of Christian monasticism the ascetics were accustomed to live singly, independent of one another, at no great distance from some village, supporting themselves by the labour of their own hands, and distributing the surplus after the supply of their own scanty wants to the poor. Increasing religious- fervour, aided by persecution, drove them farther and farther away from the abodes of men into mountain solitudes or lonely deserts. The deserts of Egypt swarmed with the " cells " or huts of these anchorites. Anthony, who had retired to the Egyptian Thebaid during the persecution of Maximin, A.D. 312, was the most celebrated among them for his austerities, his sanctity, and his power as an exorcist. His fame collected round him a host of followers, emulous of his sanctity. The deeper he withdrew into the wilderness, the more numerous his disciples became. They refused to be separated from him, and built their cells round that of their spiritual father. Thus arose the first monastic com munity, consisting of anchorites living each in his own little dwelling, united together under one superior. Anthony, as Neander remarks (Church History, vol. iii. p. 316, Clark's trans.), " without any conscious design of his own, had become the founder of a new mode of living in common, Coenobitism." By degrees order was introduced in the groups of huts. They were arranged in lines like the tents in an encampment, or the housea in a street. From this arrangement these lines of single cells came to be known as Laurae, Aaupa , " streets " or " lanes. " The real founder of coenobian (Kowor, common, and (3ios, life) monasteries in the modern sense was Pachomius, an Egyptian of the beginning of the 4th century. The first community established by him was at Tabennae, an island of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Eight' others were founded in his lifetime, numbering 3000 monks. Within fifty years from his death his societies could reckon 50,000 members. These coenebia resembled villages, peopled by a hard-working religious community, all of one sex. The buildings were detached, small and of the humblest character. Each cell or hut, according to Sozomen (H.E. 14), contained three monks. They took their chief meal in a common refectory at 3 P.M., up to which hour they usually fasted. They ate in silence, with hoods so drawn over their faces that they could see nothing but what was on the table before them. The monks spent all the time, not devoted to religious services or study, in manual labour. Palladius, who visited the Egyptian monasteries about the close of the 4th century, found among the 300 members of the coenobium of Panopolis, under the Pachomian rule, 15 tailors, 7 smiths, 4 carpenters, 12 camel-drivers and 15 tanners. Each separate community had its own oeconomus or steward, who was subject to a chief oeconomus stationed at the head establishment. All the produce of the monks' labour was committed to him, and by him shipped to Alexandria. The money raised by the sale was expended in the purchase of stores for the support of the communities, and what was over was devoted to charity. Twice in the year the superiors of the several coenobia met at the chief monastery, under the presidency of an archimandrite (" the chief of the fold," from µavbpa, a fold), and at the last meeting gave in reports of their administration for the year. The coenobia of Syria belonged to the Pachomian institution. - We learn many details concerning those in the vicinity of Antioch from Chrysostom's writings. The monks lived in separate huts, KaXbf3ta, forming a religious hamlet on the mountain side. They were subject to an abbot, and observed a common rule. (They had no refectory, but ate their common meal, of bread and water only, when the day's labour was over, reclining on strewn grass, sometimes out of doors.) Four times in the day they joined in prayers and psalms. The necessity for defence from hostile attacks, economy of space and convenience of access from one part of the community to another, by degrees dictated a more compact and orderly arrangement of the buildings of a monastic coenobium. Large piles of building were erected, with strong outside walls, capable of resisting the assaults of an enemy, within which all the neces- Santa sary edifices were ranged round one or more open Laura, courts, usually surrounded with cloisters. The usual Mount Eastern arrangement is exemplified in the plan of the Athos. convent of Santa Laura, Mount Athos (Laura, the designation of a monastery generally, being converted into a female saint). This monastery, like the oriental monasteries generally, is surrounded by a strong and lofty blank stone wall, enclosing anarea of between 3 and 4 acres. The longer side extends to a length of about 500 feet. There is only one main entrance, on the north side (A), defended by three separate iron doors. Near the entrance is a large tower -(M), a constant feature in the monasteries of the Levant. There is a small postern gate at L. The enceinte comprises two large open courts, surrounded with buildings connected with cloister galleries of wood or stone. The outer court, which is much the larger, contains the granaries and storehouses (K), and the kitchen (H) and other offices connected with the refectory (G). Immediately adjacent to the gateway is a two-storied guest-house, opening from a cloister (C). The inner court is surroua ed by a cloister (EE), from which open the monks' cells (II). In the centre of this court stands the catholicon or conventual church, a square building with an apse of the cruciform domical Byzantine type, approached by a domed narthex. In front of the church stands a marble fountain (F), covered by a dome supported on columns. Openingirom the western side of the cloister, but actually standing in the outer court, is the refectory (G), a large cruciform building, about loo feet each way, decorated within with frescoes of saints. At the upper end is a semicircular recess, recalling the triclinium of the Lateran Palace at Rome, in which is placed the seat of the hegumenos or abbot. This apartment is chiefly used as a hall of meeting, the oriental monks usually taking their meals in their separate cells: St Laura is exceeded in magnitude by the convent of Vato- pede, also on Mount Athos. This enormous establish vatopede. ment covers at least 4 acres of ground, and contains so many separate buildings within its massive walls that it. resembles a fortified town. It lodges above 300 monks, and the establishment of the hegumenos is described as resembling the court of a petty sovereign prince. The immense refectory,, of the same cruciform shape as that of St Laura, will accommodate 500 guests at its 24 marble tables. The annexed plan of a Coptic monastery, from Lenoir, shows a church of three aisles, with cellular apses, and two ranges of cells on either side of an oblong gallery. Monasticism in the West owes its extension and development to Benedict of Nursia (born A.D. 4So). His rule was diffused with miraculous rapidity from the parent foundation on Monte Cassino through the whole of western Europe, and every country witnessed the erection of monasteries far exceeding anything that had yet been- seen in spaciousness and splendour. Few great towns in Italy were without their Benedictine convent, and they quickly rose in all the great centres of population in England, France and Spain. The number of these monasteries founded between A.D. 520, and 700 iS A. Gateway. B. Chapels. C. Guest-house. D. Church. E. Cloister. F. Fountain. G. Refectory. H. Kitchen I. Cells. K. Storehouses. L. Postern gate. M. Tower. amazing. Before the Council of Constance, A.D. 1415, no fewer than 15,070 abbeys had been established of this order alone. The buildings of a Benedictine abbey were uniformly arranged after one plan, modified where necessary (as at Durham and Worcester, where the monasteries stand close to the steep bank of a river) to accommodate the arrangement to local circumstances. We have no existing examples of the earlier monasteries of the Benedictine order. They have all yielded to the ravages of time and the violence of man. But we have fortunately preserved to StGau. us an elaborate plan of the great Swiss monastery of St Gall, erected about A.D. 820, which puts us in possession of the whole arrangements of a monastery of the first class towards the early part of the 9th century. This curious and interesting plan has been made the subject of a memoir both by Keller (Zurich, 1844) and by Pro- fessor Robert Willis (Arch. Journal, 1848, vol. v. pp. 86-117. To the latter we are indebted for the sub-stance of the following description,-as well as for the plan, reduced from his elucidated transcript of the original preserved in the archives of the convent. The general appearance of the convent is that of a town of isolated houses with streets running between them. It is evidently planned in compliance with the Benedictine rule, which enjoined that, if possible, the monastery should contain within itself every necessary of life, as well as the buildings more intimately connected with the religious and social life of its inmates. It should comprise a mill, a bakehouse, stables and cow-houses, together with accommodation for carrying on all necessary mechanical arts within the walls, so as to obviate the necessity of the monks going outside its limits. The general distribution of the buildings may be thus described:—The church, with its cloister to the south, occupies the centre of a quadrangular area, about 43o feet square. The buildings, as in all great monasteries, are distributed into groups. The church forms the nucleus, as the centre of the religious life of the community. In closest connexion with the church is the group of buildings appropriated to the monastic life and its daily requirements—the refectory for eating, the dormitory for sleeping, the common room for social intercourse, the chapter-house for religious and disciplinary conference. These essential elements of monastic life are ranged about a cloister court, surrounded by a covered arcade. affording communication sheltered from the elements between he various buildings. The infirmary for sick monks, with the physician's house and physic garden, lies to the east. In the same group with the infirmary is the school for the novices. The outer school, with its head-master's house against the opposite wall of the church, stands outside the convent enclosure, in close proximity to the abbot's house, that he might have a constant eye over them. The buildings devoted to hospitality are divided into three groups,--one for the reception of distinguished guests, another for monks visiting the monastery, a third for poor travellers and pilgrims. The first and third are placed to the right and left of the common entrance of the monastery,—the hospitium for distinguished guests being placed on the north side of the church, not far from the abbot's house; that for the poor on the south side next to the farm buildings. The monks are lodged in a guest-house built against the north wall of the church. The group of buildings connected with the material wants of the establishment is placed to the south and west of the church, and is distinctly separated from the monastic buildings. The kitchen, buttery and offices are reached by a passage from the west end of the refectory, and are connected with the bakehouse and brewhouse, which are placed still farther away. The whole of the southern and western sides is devoted to workshops, stables and farm-buildings. The buildings, with some exceptions, seem to have been of one story only, and all but the church were probably erected of wood. The whole includes thirty-three separate blocks. The church (D) is cruciform, with a nave of nine bays, and a semicircular apse at either extremity. That to the west is surrounded by a semicircular colonnade, leaving an open " paradise " (E) between it and the wall of the church. The wholearea is divided by screeqs into various chapels. The high altar (A) stands immediately to the east of the transept, or ritual choir; the altar of St Paul (B) in the eastern, and that of St Peter (C) in the western apse. A cylindrical campanile stands detached from the church on either side of the western apse (FF). The " cloister court " (G) on the south side of the nave of the [If r.,T:l
End of Article: ABBEY (Lat. abbatia; from Syr. abba, father)
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