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French abbé from the 18th century

Abbé (from Latin abbas, in turn from Greek ἀββᾶς, abbas, from Aramaic abba, title of honour, literally "the father, my father," emphatic state of abh, "father")[1] is the French word for abbot. It is the title for lower-ranking Catholic clergymen in France.[2]

A concordat passed between Pope Leo X and Francis I of France (between 1515 and 1521),[3] 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 a service.[citation needed]

Since the mid-16th century, the title abbé has been used for all young clergymen with or without consecration.[2] Their clothes consisted of a black or dark violet robes with a small collar; they were tonsured.[citation needed]

Since those abbés only rarely commanded an abbey, they often worked in upper-class families as tutors, spiritual directors, etc.;[2] others became writers.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "abbot". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  2. ^ a b c A'Becket 1913.
  3. ^ A'Becket 1913 cites Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Abbot". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  III under Kinds of Abbot


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