Difference Between Abbey and Cathedral (With Table)

Numerous faiths are practiced all throughout the world. Every other religion’s beliefs, ceremonies, practices, and so on are vastly different. Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, and other religions are among the most widely practiced. Temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches, and other places of worship are available to these religions. Some even have their native or official language, which aids communication and comprehension of their sacred texts.

Abbey vs Cathedral

The main difference between an Abbey and a Cathedral is that an Abbey is a community of monks living under the leadership of an abbot who owns a complex of buildings and the main church or nuns under an abbess, whereas, In Western Christianity, a cathedral is a church that serves as the seat of a bishop. This mainly refers to Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.

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An abbey is a monastery governed by an abbot or abbess for members of a religious order. The abbey notion evolved over centuries from the early monastic traditions of religious men and women living apart from the lay population around them. In an abbey, monastic life is possible. An abbey might house a closed religious order or be accessible to the public. An abbey’s church and surrounding structures are frequently laid out according to a predetermined plan put forth by the founding religious order.

A normal church is more closely compared to a cathedral. However, unlike other churches, the cathedral is regarded as the diocese’s main religious institution. The bishop’s throne is housed here even though it is not the city’s largest church. In contrast to abbeys, bishops lead cathedrals. It’s commonly used as a noun to refer to a building or a place of worship.

Comparison Table Between Abbey and Cathedral

Parameters of ComparisonAbbeyCathedral
Meaningwho acts as the community’s spiritual father or mothera Christian church in which the bishop’s throne or crown is located.
More likecatholic monastery or conventCentral church of a diocese
Headed byAbbess or abbotBishop
Latin wordAbbatiaCathedra
PurposeIt has a variety of uses.Only adoration

What is Abbey?

The term “abbey” refers to a former residence of Christian monks and nuns. It is treated in the same way as monasteries are treated. As a result, they’re interchanged. The term ‘abbey’ comes from the Latin ‘abbatia,’ meaning ‘father.’ However, because nuns used to dwell at the abbey, an abbey is also referred to as a “nunnery.” It has since been suspended because of the widespread misunderstanding it has caused, as the location is not only for nuns but also for Christian monks.

An abbey is a large structure that is made up of several smaller units that serve various purposes. Some of them, for example, have their own monastery, a convent, a location where all of the gifts from the offerors are received, a separate space for prayer, a place for religious events and festivities, and so on. The idea for the abbey’s construction was focused on men and women living outside of civilization and secluded from it.

If a Christian monk is in command of the location or abbey, he is known as abbot (spiritual father), but if a nun is in charge, he is known as abbess (spiritual mother). The food they consume and the clothes they wear are under the control and responsibility of the monks and nuns who live in seclusion from civilization. They raise and eat their own food. They also contribute to the advancement of society by providing a home, food, medication, education, and a variety of other necessities to those in need.

What is a Cathedral?

A cathedral is a Christian church that also serves as a seat for the bishop or pope. Cathedrals resemble churches more frequently than not. As a result, they’re frequently interchanged. Cathedral is derived from the Latin word ‘cathedra,’ which means ‘a seat.’ However, having a bishop or pope’s throne is not necessarily required since many cathedrals worldwide do not.

A bishop, a pope, is the cathedral’s leader. A cathedral with a bishop’s or pope’s seat is also regarded as the principal church of a certain area and is in charge of meeting religious needs. The bishop or pop seated on the chair was once thought to be the teacher, magistrate, and ruling body of the Christian community’s nearby area.

Unlike a church, a city is seen to have only one cathedral, which might be a modest or enormous structure. The administrative component of the distinction between a church and a cathedral is assigned to a cathedral rather than a church. The practice of recognizing dioceses as autonomous cities was introduced by King Henry VII.

Main Differences Between Abbey and Cathedral

  1. A bishop or a pop leads the cathedral, while an abbot or abbess leads the monastery.
  2. The abbey serves various functions, whereas the cathedral is solely used for worship.
  3. Abbey and Cathedral come from the Latin words ‘Abbatia’ and ‘Cathedra,’ respectively.
  4. An abbey is more commonly referred to as a monastery, whereas a cathedral is more commonly referred to as a church.
  5. ‘abbey’ means ‘father,’ but the Latin word ‘cathedra’ means ‘seat.’


For Catholics, both an abbey and a cathedral are sacred spaces. Even Catholics sometimes become perplexed when identifying their religious structures or locations. These areas are brimming with heavenly and tranquil energy, which aids in guiding ordinary people down the road of righteousness. Both are holy and sacred locations, and the structures differ in ways that have previously been examined.

An abbey is mostly a facility similar to a monastery that houses nuns and Christian monks. On the other hand, a cathedral does not provide such services; it is just a place of worship. Furthermore, an abbey has several additional structures beside it for various reasons, whereas a cathedral is a small or huge edifice.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=hi&lr=&id=rYE3AAAAYAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=abbey+and+cathedral&ots=BzOMQcteN_&sig=cN5LZKv5mvpt9I2nbXY6QZIE9Wc
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00665983.1890.10852430?journalCode=raij20
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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

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