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patriarch, in the Bible
patriarch, in Christian churches
patriarch, in Christian churches, title of certain exalted bishops, implying authority over a number of other bishops. There were originally three patriarchates: the West, held by the bishop of Rome (the pope; see papacy; Benedict XVI dropped the title in 2006), Alexandria, and Antioch. To these were added Constantinople (381) and Jerusalem (451). To the West belonged everything W of the Balkans and Cyrene, and Constantinople ruled most of the Byzantine Empire. Syria and Mesopotamia were under Antioch, Palestine under Jerusalem, and Egypt under Alexandria. The triumph of Monophysitism in Egypt and Syria (5th–6th cent.) created new churches, and since then the three Orthodox patriarchs in Asia have had small, minority jurisdictions; they abandoned (12th cent.) their local rites in favor of the Byzantine.
Besides the five ancient patriarchates there are a number of others. In communion with the pope there are 11: the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem, who is bishop of local Latin-rite Catholics (the purely titular Latin-rite patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch were abolished in 1964); six who are heads of Eastern rites, having generally full patriarchal powers and not usually resident in their official sees, namely, Alexandria (Coptic rite), Antioch (three: Syrian rite, Melchite, and Maronite), Babylon (Chaldaean rite; see Nestorian Church), and Cilicia (Armenian rite); finally, in the Western Church the title patriarch is conferred, purely as an honor, on four prelates, the archbishop of Goa (patriarch of the East Indies), the archbishop of Lisbon, the archbishop of Venice, and the patriarch of the West Indies (normally Spanish). In the Russian Orthodox Church the czar set up (1580) a patriarch of Moscow; the title was abolished (1721) by Peter the Great and revived in 1917 (see Orthodox Eastern Church). The Orthodox archbishops of Belgrade and of Bucharest are called patriarchs. Besides all these there are a Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, a Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, a Nestorian patriarch, and four Armenian patriarchs (of Echmiadzin, Sis, Jerusalem, and Constantinople).
the highest title of the head of an autocephalous Orthodox Christian church in a number of countries.
The title of patriarch was established at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. After the Christian church separated into the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1054, the title was retained in the Eastern hierarchy. In the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Church was headed by the four patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. When independent Slavic states arose in Bulgaria and Serbia, patriarchs were also created to head those churches.
In Russia, the first patriarch was elected at a council of the Russian ecclesiastical hierarchy in 1589. In the late 16th century and throughout the 17th, the Russian patriarchs were major feudal landowners who took an active part in the political life of the state. The patriarch’s power reached its apex under Nikon. A gradual subordination of the patriarch to secular authority culminated under Peter I. After the death of Patriarch Adrian in 1700, Peter appointed not a patriarch but a locum tenens of the patriarchal see. In 1721 he eliminated the position altogether. Management of church affairs was turned over to the Synod.
The title of patriarch was restored at a council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917–18. In addition to the Russian patriarch, there are patriarchs in Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Georgia (catholicos-patriarch), Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania. The heads of certain eparchies in the Catholic Church are also called patriarchs.
The patriarchs in Russia have included Iov (1589–1605), Ignatii (1605–06), Germogen (1606–12), Filaret (1619–33), Ioasaf I (1634–40), Iosif (1642–52), Nikon (1652–67), Ioasaf II (1667–72), Pitirim (1672–73), Ioakim (1674–90), Adrian (1690–1700), Stefan Iavorskii (1700–21, locum tenens), Tikhon (1917–25), Sergii (1925–27, deputy patriarch; 1927–43, locum tenens; 1943–44, patriarch), Aleksii (1945–70), and Pimen (from 1971).
V. I. BUGANOV