An abbess (Latin: abbatissa), also known as a mother superior, is the female superior of a community of Catholic nuns in an abbey.
In the Catholic Church (both the Latin Church and Eastern Catholic), Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and Anglican abbeys, the mode of election, position, rights, and authority of an abbess correspond generally with those of an abbot. She must be at least 40 years old and have been a nun for 10 years. The age requirement in the Catholic Church has evolved over time, ranging from 30 to 60. The requirement of 10 years as a nun is only eight in Catholicism. In the rare case of there not being a nun with the qualifications, the requirements may be lowered to 30 years of age and five of those in an "upright manner", as determined by the superior. A woman who is of illegitimate birth, is not a virgin, has undergone non-salutory public penance, is a widow, or is blind or deaf, is typically disqualified for the position, saving by permission of t