Terminology

Abbey - A monastery or convent under the government of an abbot or abbess.

Convent - A building or community of female monastics.

Monastery - A building or community of male monastics.

Nunnery - An outmoded term for convent.

Priory - A building headed by a prior or prioress. This may be for monastics, but can also include friars (who live a life of poverty rather than monasticism) or military-monastic knights.

Monastic Ranks

Oblate - Oblates are laypersons of a monastic order who are not monks or nuns, but who have individually affiliated themselves in prayer with a monastery of their choice.

Candidate/Postulant - The title for a person asking for admission into a monastery, both before actual admission and for the length of time proceeding their admission into the novitiate.

Novice - A prospective monastic undergoing a period of training and preparation prior to taking vows in the order to determine whether or not they are called to the religious life.

Lay Brother - Lay Brothers handle secular matters, typically manual labor which either gains money for or supports the monastery, such as working in farms, gardens, the hospice, infirmary, and kitchens.

Choir Monk - Monks who have been or will be ordained into monastic orders as a deacon or priest.

Monk - A monastic clergyman who practices religious asceticism. The female term is nun.

Heirodeacon - A monk who is also an ordained deacon.

Heiromonk - A monk who is also an ordained priest.

Sub-prior - A monastic superior who holds the third place in the monastery hierarchy. The female term is Subprioress.

Prior - A Prior is a monastic superior, usually lower in rank than an abbot (in those cases where they don't control a priory themselves). The female equivalent is Prioress.

Abbot - The title given to the head of a monastery or abbey. The female equivalent is Abbess.

Hegumen - A title for the head of all monasteries in a certain territory (from a monastery known as a 'hegumenos'). The head of a convent of nuns is called hegumenia or ihumenia.

Archimandrite - This title refers to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise several "ordinary" abbots (each styled hegumenos) and monasteries, or to the abbot of some especially great and important monastery. The female term is Archimandrate.

Mother Superior - A term for a female in charge of an abbey or convent.

Monastery Positions

Almoner - The monk who manages alms distributed to the poor.

Cantor - The brother who supervises (choir) music.

Cellarer - The lay brother who provides for the monks' practical needs for daily life, such as supplies.

Chamberlain - A monk in charge of clothing.

Circuitor - The monk in charge of discipline.

Guest-master - The brother in charge of caring for the monastery's guests.

Infirmerer - who took care of the sick and the elderly monks

Kitchener - The brother in charge of food preparation.

Librarian - A monk who manages the books of the monastery.

Novice-master - The senior monk who supervises the novices.

Sacrist - A monk, second only to the prior and sub prior, who is in charge of everything holy, including books and relics.

Treasurer - The brother who supervises the monastery's jewels, ornaments, and vestments.

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