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Priory

From Academic Kids

A priory is a monastery governed by a prior or prioress. An alien priory is a priory which is dependent on a foreign mother house, and an alien priory cell was a residence of two or three monks dependent on a foreign mother house but sent to exploit a distant estate. Alien priory cells were suppressed in 1414.

Strictly speaking, a priory is a secondary house created by an existing abbey, but this distinction fell out of use in late mediaeval times.

Priories were generally organized as follows:

The prior was the head of the priory, and although he oversaw most aspects of the running of the priory, many specific supervisory positions existed to help him manage the priory.

The sub prior was essentially a deputy prior and the second in command.

There were other various positions such as the sacrist, second only to the prior and sub prior, who was in charge of everything holy, including services, books and relics. The circuitor, the monk in charge of discipline, the novice-master who supervised the novice monks, the cellarer, who provided for the monks practical needs for daily life, such as supplies. There was librarian, who managed the books, the cantor, who supervised music, chamberlain, in charge of clothing, kitchener, in charge of food, guest-master, in charge of seeing to the priory's guests, infirmarer, who took care of the sick and the elderly monks, treasurer, who supervised the priory's jewels, ornaments, and vestaments, and the almoner who managed alms.

The prior was elected by a majority vote of the monks. At election times the votes were all counted equally from the youngest novice up to the sub prior. Often the local bishop would endorse a candidate, however the election was left entirely up to the monks.

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