Abbé (from Latin abbas, in turn from Greek ἀββᾶς, abbas, from Aramaic abba, a title of honour, literally meaning "the father, my father", emphatic state of abh, "father") is the French word for abbot. It is the title for lower-ranking Catholic clergymen in France.
A concordat between Pope Leo X and King Francis I of France (between 1515 and 1521), gave the kings of France the right to nominate 255 commendatory abbots (abbés commendataires) for almost all French abbeys, who received income from a monastery without needing to render service.
From the mid-16th century, the title abbé has been used in France for all young clergymen with or without consecration. Their clothes consisted of a black or dark violet robes with a small collar; they were tonsured.
Since such abbés only rarely commanded an abbey, they often worked in upper-class families as tutors, spiritual directors, etc.; some (such as Gabriel Bonnot de Mably) became writers.
- A'Becket, John J (1913). "Abbé". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.