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Medieval Religion

What was there name of positions in Abbey church?


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August 09, 2011 3:22PM

It is not clear what you are asking for: positions of responsibility within an abbey, or the different architectural parts of an abbey church.

I can only guess that you mean positions of responsibility within an abbey and these varied from monastery to monastery. Smaller monastic houses had fewer monks, so there was no need to appoint certain officials, while larger houses needed more. The following list gives all the possible positions (called obedientaries):

  • Abbot
  • Prior
  • Sub-Prior
  • the sacrist or sacristan was in charge of everything sacred, including Holy Offices, altars, Bibles and relics
  • the circuitor, the monk in charge of discipline. He carried out any corporal punishments which may be necessary and enforced any other penalties such as reduced diet .
  • the novice-master or "master of the boys" who supervised the novices and children
  • the cellarer, who provided for the monks' practical needs for daily life from the Abbey stores and supplies. He was responsible for overseeing the provision and production of food and drink such as bread and ale, as well as providing clothing, bedding and tools
  • the librarian, who managed the books
  • the precentor/cantor, who supervised choir music
  • the chamberlain, in charge of clothing
  • the kitchener, in charge of food preparation
  • the hospitaller, in charge of the guesthouse
  • the infirmerer, who took care of the sick and the elderly monks
  • the treasurer, who supervised the priory's jewels, ornaments, and vestments
  • the almoner, who managed alms distributed to the poor
  • the porter, who was often an older and more experienced monk, responsible for greeting guests and securing the Abbey gates; he also prevented any interruption of Holy Office or other services

Where the number of monks in a monastery warranted it, deans might be appointed. The word dean is from the Latin "decem", ten, and deans were each given responsibility for ten monks.