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When the monasteries in which the same regular observance is followed, or the abbeys of the same province, district, or country form a congregation, i.e.a federation of houses to promote the general interest of the order, the presiding Abbot is styled the "Abbot President", or the "Abbot General." Thus, the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance has at its head an Abbot General; the English Congregation, the American-Cassinese, and the American-Swiss, have each an Abbot President.Benedict were united under the presidency of an "Abbot Primate" ( Leo XIII , Summum semper , 12 July, 1893); but the unification, fraternal in its nature, brought no modification to the abbatial dignity, and the various congregations preserved their autonomy intact.

An Abbot who presides only over such persons, ecclesiastical and lay, as are attached to his monastery, belongs to the lowest grade, and his jurisdiction carries with it what is called the simple passive exemption ( exemptio passiva ) from the authority of the diocesan bishop. Pachomius, who, about the same time, founded his first coenobium , or conventual monastery, at Tabennae in the far south of Egypt. Monastic communities were first organized in Egypt at the beginning of the fourth century. Anthony introduced one form of community life the eremitical when, about the year A. 305, he undertook the direction and organization of the multitude of hermits who had gathered about him in the Thebaid ; a second -- the coenobitical, or conventual, type of monachism -- was instituted by St.From the East the word passed over to the West, and here it was soon received into general use to designate the superior of an abbey or a monastery. Cassian, who at the beginning of the fifth century had transplanted Egyptian monachism to Gaul, was addressed as Abbas , Pater , and Dominus ; he himself termed the superior of the monastery Praepositus .

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Benedict of Nursia, gave it the definite form and constitution which ultimately assured its triumph in the West.

In a word, uniting in his person the threefold office of father, teacher, and ruler, it is the duty of the Abbot to see that all things are administered wisely in the House of God.