Archpriest

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An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, during the persecution of Roman Catholics in England, an archpriest appointed from Rome had authority over all of the church's secular clergy in the country. In the present-day Church of England, an archpriest closely resembles a Rural or Area Dean.

History

In ancient times, much as the archdeacon was the head of the diaconate of a diocese, as is still the case in the Eastern Orthodox Church, while the archpriest was first the chief of the presbyterium of the diocese. His duties included deputising for the Bishop in spiritual matters when necessary.

In the western church, by the Middle Ages, the title had evolved and was that of the priest of the principal parish among several local parishes. This priest had general charge of worship in this archpresbyteriate, and the parishioners of the smaller parishes had to attend Sunday Mass and hold baptisms at the principal parish while the subordinate parishes instead held daily mass and homilies.

By the time of the Council of Trent the office of archpriest was replaced by the office of vicar......
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