Help Now >
FREE Catholic Classes
A name commonly used in medieval times for the lesser officials of a monastery who were appointed by will of the superior. In some cases the word is used to include all those who held office beneath the abbot, but more frequently the prior and sub-prior are excluded from those signified by it. To the obedientiaries were assigned the various duties pertaining to their different offices and they possessed considerable power in their own departments. There was always a right of appeal to the abbot or superior, but in practice most details were settled by the "customary" of the monastery. The list that follows gives the usual titles of the obedientiaries, but in some monasteries other names were used and other official positions may be found: thus, for example, to this day, in the great Swiss monastery of Einsiedeln the name "dean" is given to the official who is called prior in all other Benedictine houses.
- (1) The "cantor", or " precentor ", usually assisted by the "sub-cantor", or "succentor" (see CANTOR).
- (2) The sacrist, or sacristan, who had charge of the monastic church and of all things necessary for the services. He had, as a rule, several assistants:
- (a) the subsacrist, also known as the secretary, the "matricularius", or the master of work;
- (b) the treasurer;
- (c) the "revestiarius".
- (3) The cellarer, or bursar, who acted as chief purveyor of all foodstuffs to the monastery and as general steward. In recent times the name procurator is often found used for this official. He had as assistants:
- (4) The refectorian, who had charge of the frater, or refectory and its furniture, including such things as crockery, cloths, dishes, spoons, forks, etc.
- (5) The kitchener, who presided over the cookery department, not only for the community but for all guests, dependants, etc.
- (6) The novice master (see NOVICE), whose assistant was sometimes called the "zelator".
- (7) The infirmarian, besides looking after the sick brethren, was also responsible for the quarterly "blood letting" of the monks, a custom almost universal in medieval monasteries.
- (8) The guest-master, whose duties are dealt with in chapter liii of St. Benedict's Rule.
- (9) The almoner.
- (10) The chamberlain, or "vestiarius".
Besides these officials who were appointed more or less permanently, there were certain others appointed for a week at a time to carry out various duties. These positions were usually filled in turn by all below the rank of sub-prior, though very busy officials, e.g., the cellarer, might be excused. The chief of these was the hebdomadarian, or priest for the week. It was his duty to sing the conventual mass on all days during the week, to intone the "Deus in adjutorium" at the beginning of each of the canonical hours, to bless holy water , etc. The antiphoner was also appointed for a week at a time. It was his duty to read or sing the invitatory at Matins, to give out the first antiphon at the Psalms, and also the versicles, responsoria after the lessons etc. The weekly reader and servers in the kitchen and refectory entered upon their duties on Sunday when, in company with the servers of the previous week, they had to ask and receive a special blessing in choir as directed in chapters xxxv and xxxviii of St. Benedict's Rule . Nowadays the tendency is towards a simplification in the details of monastic life and consequently to a reduction in the number of officials in a monastery, but all the more important offices named above exist today in every monastery though the name obedientiaries has quite dropped out of everyday use.
Help Now >
This Christmas Season, we humbly ask you to join the 1% of readers who give. If everyone reading this right now gave just $5, we'd hit our annual goal in a couple of hours. The price of a cup of coffee is all we ask. Thank you. Help Now >
Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.
Mysteries of the Rosary
St. Faustina Kowalska
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saint of the Day for Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2023
St. Francis of Assisi
Female / Women Saints
7 Morning Prayers you need to get your day started with God
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Daily Readings for Sunday, December 10, 2023
- Pope Saint Gregory III: Saint of the Day for Sunday, December 10, 2023
- Act of Love: Prayer of the Day for Sunday, December 10, 2023
- Daily Readings for Saturday, December 09, 2023
- St. Juan Diego: Saint of the Day for Saturday, December 09, 2023
- Prayer of Solace: Prayer of the Day for Saturday, December 09, 2023
Help Now >
Copyright 2023 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2023 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.