Difference between an abbey and a monastery
Abbey and Monastery:
Distinguishing an abbey from a monastery can prove to be a confusing task even for the most devout of catholics as seemingly, hey both serve the same purpose and the terms are often seen to be used interchangeably. Yet, these two terms are most definitely two different places which signify two different things.
What is an abbey?
An abbey, a term derived from the Latin abbatia, which is derived from the Syriac abba which means “father” is a catholic convent or a dwelling place which is supervised by an abbess or an abbot. It is a place where priests or monks live, worship and conduct their day to day activities which is an ensemble of minor buildings or a complex of buildings which are comprised of a separate monastery or convent, a chapter house for private meetings, a novitiate, an infirmary, a conference room, a kitchen, a refectory a place of worship and other buildings. Each abbey is usually customized for specific purposes such as living, praying, grooming, training, etc.
An abbey is also sometimes referred to as a nunnery and yet, this term is not used today as it seems to indicate an abbey as a place that is reserved exclusively for nuns which is not true.
What is a monastery?
A monastery can be defined as a place where people lead a monastic life. A monastery is more like a developing sort of an abbey and is considered to be a most premature one which upon its growing and development will evolve eventually in to an abbey. The term monastery is being used widely today and even abbeys are being called monasteries nowadays which is contributing more and more to the general confusion between the two words.
What is the difference between an abbey and a monastery?
Whereas an abbey is a large group of minor buildings put together to form an abbey, a monastery is a single building in which nuns or priests live a monastic life. An abbey consists of many buildings such as a separate monastery or convent, a chapter house for private meetings, a novitiate, an infirmary, a conference room, a kitchen, a refectory a place of worship, etc, a monastery often consists of a single building. A monastery can also be a mere part of an abbey by which the building where the nuns or the priests live can be referred to.
A monastery is also defined as a premature version of an abbey which will, with time, grow or develop itself to a full grown abbey. Whereas an abbey is governed by an abbess or an abbot, there is no such person governing a monastery except for a head priest or a nun.