a capella (Lat., in chapel style) Singing without instrumental accompaniment.

a parte ante Scholastic term for the eternal past of God before the creation of the world.

Aachen City in Germany, site of the octagon cathedral with a sixteen-sided dome, built by Emperor Charlemagne around 789. It was the earliest completely vaulted building north of the Alps. The name of the architect was Master Odo of Metz. From the center of the high-vaulted dome hangs a magnificent circular chandelier of gilded copper which the goldsmith Wibert made in 1160 as a symbol of the Celestial City. In the center is the Octagon of Charlemagne consecrated in 805 by Pope Leo III The cathedral is surrounded by a necklace of chapels.

Aba I, Mar (d. 552) Nestorian catholicos from 540. A convert from Mazdaism, he studied and later taught at Nisibis. As catholicos, he opened a school at Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The Magi persecuted him and later imprisoned and exiled him.

abba (Syr., father)

  1. In the New Testament, God as heavenly Father.
  2. Term of address, especially for Desert Fathers and revered pioneers of asceticism.

Abba Salama

  1. The first bishop of Axum, Ethiopia, generally identified with Frumentius. He is often surnamed Kasate Berhan, or "the Illuminator."
  2. Title of the abuna (patriarch) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, meaning "Father of Peace."

abbas Title of a Coptic bishop or metropolitan.

abbateia In the Byzantine Church, abbey or monastery.

abbe Originally the abbot of a monastery in France, but often applied to anyone who wears clerical dress.

abbess Superior of certain autonomous houses of nuns.


  1. Monastery or nunnery that houses a religious community. It generally ranks above a priory.
  2. A church connected with a monastery.

abbey nullius Abbey whose abbot is exempt from diocesan control and is under direct papal jurisdiction.

Abbo of Fleury, St. (945-1004) Monastic reformer and abbot of Fleury. He helped Oswald, archbishop of York, to introduce into England the reforms of the Monastery of Cluny. On return to France, he was elected abbot of Fleury (Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire). His writings cover canon law, ecclesiastical history, the lives of the Fathers of the, logic, and grammar. He was killed in 1004 by dissident monks. Feast day: November 13.