Life in the Abbey

In North March, your life begins at Roxeter Abbey.

The monks and nuns offer hospitality to travelers, visitors, and those seeking sanctuary or wishing to retreat from the world. Role play your entry to North March. Go to the abbey and take a room there. Contact Vivienne Daguerre for an invitation to the group, which will let you set home to one of the rooms at the abbey.  It gives you a place to log your avatar in and out and change your clothing while we have a little time to role play with you and get to know you. Visit the  library to find information about the time and place of our role play to help you get started.

Once we have had a chance to get to know you, and you have had a chance to decide whether or not our environment is one you where you would like to spend some time, we can talk more about occupation, position and a residence.


Religion was very important in medieval and Tudor times. An abbey is located in North March that will have a resident order of monks and nuns, in segregated quarters of course.

The abbey provides many essential services to the community. The brothers work in the scriptorium, laboriously copying rare and important books and scrolls by hand, and maintaining a library. Their library is the center of academic study and knowledge in the area.

The abbey offered accommodation to travellers, and those seeking refuge or retreat from the world for reflection. Occasionally a fugitive would seek sanctuary there to avoid arrest.

The monks and nuns worked hard to keep their monastery self sufficient, growing vegetables and grain, raising livestock for meat and milk, weaving their own cloth, and milling their own grain. They would trade surplus for money to buy other needed supplies.

Sometimes a convent is associated with an abbey instead of a monastery, or there may be both a convent (or nunnery), and a monastery. Usually the convent is segregated in a separate building. Because of the limited space we have on a second life private island estate, we will house our nuns within the abbey.

The nuns provided valuable service to the community. They operated a school where children intended for religious service in their adult lives, children of local nobility, and children of high ranking gentry and officials would be educated.

Within the walls of the abbey there would be an infirmary, where the nuns administered to the sick, elderly, and dying.

The sisters cooked meals for the residents and guests of the abbey, scrubbed and cleaned, and worked in gardens, fields and other areas of the abbey alongside the monks. They provided food, clothing and lodging to the poor, often in exchange for some service or work.

Both monks and nuns spent a lot of time in study, meditation, worship and devotion, and this was an activity they would engage in together and apart.


Positions in the Abbey

The pyramid of power which was prevalent in the Medieval feudalism of the Middle Ages also applied to the monasteries. The Medieval Monastery hierarchy. Men who entered a Medieval monastery could become both wealthy and successful. Abbeys often owed some form of feudal obligation to a lord or higher organization. They are normally self-contained.

Abbot or Abbess: The abbey was under the authority of an abbot or abbess.

The abbot would be referred to as The Right Reverend Abbot <name> and addressed as Father or Father Abbot. The abbess would be referred to as The Reverend Mother <name> and addressed as Mother.

Prior or Prioress: Second in command and ran the abbey in the absence of the abbot or abbess.

The prior would be referred to as The Very Reverend <name> and addressed as Father. A prioress would be referred to as The Reverend Mother <name> and addressed as Mother.

Dean: Appointed by the abbot or abbess to supervise a group of ten monks or nuns. For our purposes, a dean may be male or female.

A male dean would be referred to as The Reverend <name> and addressed as Father. A female Dean would be referred to as Mother <name> and addressed as Mother.

Monks: Monks could rise to different positions within a monastery, tutors, archivists, cellarers and doctors. Lower level monks worked tending gardens and crops, making wine, copying scrolls, assisting visiting scholars, etc. doing work to keep the abbey self sufficient.

A monk would be referred to as Brother <name> and addressed as Brother.

Nuns: Nuns would work alongside the monks in the abbey doing the work necessary to maintain their community: baking, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry, but they could rise to various positions as could the monks, nursing the sick, tutoring, teaching, copying important scrolls and books, etc.

A nun would be referred to as Sister <name> and addressed as Sister.

Lay Brothers and Sisters: Lay brothers and lay sisters were not under the strict vows taken by monks and nuns. They came from the local community and were sometimes illiterate peasants. They assisted in the necessary work of the abbey, or provided specialized skills, such as blacksmith, or sang in the choir. They greeted visitors and acted as intermediaries between the public and the monks and nuns. Their habits would be a bit different, usually brown, to distinguish them from the monks and nuns. The service of a lay brother or sister is not for life, and they could leave the abbey to marry or work elsewhere. They would not hold higher positions in the abbey, which were reserved for monks and nuns.

They would be referred to as Brother <name> or Sister <name> and addressed as Brother or Sister.


Clerical Hierarchy

Because the abbey is our only religious center, some members of the clergy might reside at the abbey. They are superior to the abbot or abbess, but there is a division of responsibility with the abbot or abbess supervising the running of the abbey and the work within it, and the clergy supervising worship and spiritual matters. All within the abbey would show respect and deference to members of the clergy.

In our role play, the priest (or other clergy member) will not role play giving communion. If he wishes to, he may offer a blessing instead, laying his hands on a parishioner and saying something like, “May the Lord bless you and keep you.”

The Pope: The pope lives at the Vatican in Rome. If needed for some specific role play, someone could play the part of the pope visiting the abbey. We would not expect to see the pope in the abbey on a regular or frequent basis.

He would be referred to as His Holiness Pope <name> and addressed as Your Holiness or Holy Father.

Cardinal: cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. Cardinals are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and making themselves available individually or in groups to the pope if he requests their counsel. A cardinal may also be an Archbishop in charge of a diocese. We may expect to see a cardinal visit the abbey on occasion, but he would not be resident there.

He would be referred to as Cardinal <name> and addressed as Your Eminence.

Archbishop: The archbishop oversaw an archdiocese, a large area broken up into dioceses run by bishops, which were further broken into smaller parishes ministered to by priests. The center of the archdiocese would be in an important town or city. We would not expect the archbishop to be resident in our abbey, but he may visit on occasion. 

He would be addressed as The Most Reverend Archbishop <name> and addressed as Your Grace.

Bishop: The bishop would answer to the archbishop, and would have charge over his diocese, which would contain several parishes. The bishop would supervise the priests running those parishes. It is plausible that there may be a bishop in residence at the abbey. On special occasions the bishop may participate in leading worship, such as Christmas or Easter.

A bishop would be referred to as The Most Reverend Bishop <name> and would be addressed as Your Excellency.

Priest: The abbey would be within a parish, and there would be a priest resident in the abbey. He would be responsible for the spiritual life and guidance of everyone in the parish and would lead worship services.

A priest would be referred to as The Reverend Father <name> and addressed as Father.

Deacon or Deaconess: Deacons are lay people who assist priests in their pastoral and administrative duties. They proclaim the Gospel, preach, assist in worship and to serve the poor and outcast.

He would be referred to as The Reverend Deacon <name>, and addressed as Deacon <name> or Deacon.


*Note: This is not intended to be an academic treatment of the subject and I do not guarantee historical accuracy. The intent of this article is to provide a framework for entertainment purposes in Second Life. If I have made any glaring errors, I would be grateful for feedback and correction.