The church of All Saints, originally of Norman foundation, was rebuilt in 1273 by the abbess and nuns of Godstow near Oxford, and was largely reconstructed early in the 15th century.
Abbesses have a right to demand absolute obedience of their nuns, over whom they exercise discipline, extending even to the power of expulsion, subject, however, to the bishop. As a female an abbess is incapable of performing the spiritual functions of the priesthood belonging to an abbot.
The mode of election, position, rights and authority of an abbess correspond generally with those of an abbot.
The abbess Hild and her monks recognized that the illiterate herdsman had received a gift from heaven, and, in order to test his powers, proposed to him that he should try to render into verse a portion of sacred history which they explained to him.
This office of abbess is of considerable social dignity, and is sometimes filled by princesses of the reigning houses.
Two slight innovations were introduced: the minimum age of an abbess was fixed at sixty, and the period of novitiate was prolonged from one year to two.
The scene of the legend now shifts to Rome, where Diocletian falls in love with a lovely nun named Ripsime; she, rather than gratify his passion, flees with her abbess Gaiana and several priests to Armenia.
The last abbess was Sophia Albertina (d.
The special feature of the institute was that the abbess ruled the monks as well as the nuns.
All that we know of his date is that his dream took place during the period (658-680) in which Hild was abbess of Streanwshalch, and that he must have died some considerable time before Bada finished his history in 731.