PRIOR, PRIORESS: The title of an official over a monastery or convent next in rank to the abbot or abbess. Before the pontificate of Celestine V. (1294), the term signified a monk of superior rank or greater age. After that time the prior claustralis was next to the abbot, and was appointed by him to inspect and control the deans, and to maintain discipline among the monks. The prior conventualis was master of his own monastery when it was an offshoot from another monastery, or he was superior of a house of canons.