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A monastery whose superior is a prior. The Dominicans, Augustinian Hermits, Carthusians, Carmelites, Servites, and Brothers of Mercy call all their monasteries priories. The Benedictines and their offshoots, the Premonstratensians, and the military orders distinguish between conventual and simple or obedientiary priories. Conventual priories are those autonomous houses which have no abbots, either because the canonically required number of twelve monks has not yet been reached or for some other reason. The Congregation of Cluny had many conventual priories. There were likewise many conventual priories in Germany and Italy during the Middle Ages, and in England all monasteries attached to cathedral churches were known as cathedral priories. Nearly all the monasteries of the famous Maurist Congregation in France (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were called priories. At present the Benedictine Order has twenty-seven conventual priories. Simple or obedientiary priories are dependencies of abbeys. Their superior, who is subject to the abbot in everything, is called simple or obedientiary prior.
For bibliography see PRIOR.