The impersonation of Abbeys and Convents, represented by Spenser as a damsel. When Una asked if she had seen the Red Cross Knight, Abessa, frightened at the lion, ran to the cottage of blind Superstition, and shut the door. Una arrived, and the lion burst the door open. The meaning is, that at the Reformation, when Truth came, the abbeys and convents got alarmed, and would not let Truth enter, but England (the lion) broke down the door. —Faërie Queen, i. 3.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894