The word abbot etymologically comes from the Latin “Abbas”. It is a term used in the religious context to define the superior of a monastery corresponding to a religious order called abbey (Christian Convents), which must be made up of at least 12 or more monks. The adjective abbot first arose in Europe by Saint Benedict of Nursia . In the beginning, the title of abbot was granted, not as a synonym of authority, but rather as a title of respect towards those monks of advanced age.
Once the term abbot was used in the West, its use diversified to refer to the superior of an abbey , he was the one in charge of spiritually and temporarily directing the monastery, and by the end of the 15th century, the abbeys were transformed into institutions ecclesiastical legal, the title of abbot becomes life. The abbot is distinguished by wearing, like a bishop, the pectoral cross , the ring, the staff (staff), and the miter (headdress that is placed on the head).
The abbot can simply be the superior of a monastery and obey the orders of the diocesan bishop, or he can also have authority over a slightly more extensive territory , where various parish temples with their faithful are located.
Formerly, the abbot was chosen by the friars of his monastery, however over time, the bishop was intervening in his choice. Once he is elected, the abbot, in addition to being superior, becomes the husband of the abbey church , just as the bishop is of his cathedral. After the election, the blessing proceeds.
Also women can have the title of abbess , these are the superiors but a nunnery. They are chosen by the congregation in a secret ballot, and the one who is elected must be at least 40 years old and a virgin in order to receive the blessing. The blessing is requested only if the appointment of abbess is of a perpetual nature , and must be carried out the year following her election.
The abbess has spiritual dominion over her daughters, having control and administrative command over her environment, however she does not have any authority to bless the liturgy, confess or give communion .