The Stations of the Clergy: Abbot

The abbot is the official in charge of a monastery or abbey and is not necessarily a priest, though he must be a brother or monk sworn to the vows of the order to which the abbey or monastery belongs. The abbot can be the equivalent of anything from a prince to a baron in the hierarchy of the Church, depending on the wealth of the religious house in his care, how well endowed it is with lands and income. Abbots and their successors are always elected by the inmates of the monastery from among their own number. They are elected for life or until the majority of the inmates can convince the local bishop that a new one is needed due to advanced age, incompetence, corruption, or the like. If he rules a large abbey that requires much energy and attention to administer, the abbot may well have a prior as his right-hand man or second in command.