AskDefine | Define patriarchs

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  1. Plural of patriarch

Extensive Definition

Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a composition of (pater) meaning "father" and (archon) meaning "leader", "chief", "ruler", "king", etc.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are referred to as the three patriarchs of the people of Israel, and the period in which they lived is called the Patriarchal Age. It originally acquired its religious meaning in the Septuagint version of the Bible.
The word has mainly taken on specific ecclesiastical meanings. In particular, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church (above Major Archbishop and primate), and the Assyrian Church of the East are called patriarchs. The office and ecclesiastical conscription (comprising one or more provinces, though outside his own (arch)diocese he is often without enforceable jurisdiction) of such a patriarch is called a patriarchate. Historically, a Patriarch may often be the logical choice to act as Ethnarch, representing the community that is identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (as Christians within the Ottoman Empire).

Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East

Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East

Patriarch of the Nasrani (Assyrian) Church of the East

Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churches

see: Eastern Orthodoxy

Patriarchs of the Roman Catholic Church

see: Roman Catholic Church
As part of the Pentarchy, the Pope's Patriarchate of Rome was the only one in the Western Roman empire. It was roughly coterminous with present territory of the Latin Rite. In the past popes have used the title Patriarch of the West. However, this title was removed from a reference publication issued by the Vatican in 2006.

Latin Rite Patriarchs

These titles are honorary and carry no actual Patriarchal authority:

Historical Patriarchs in the Roman Catholic Church

Other Catholic Patriarchs


According to Mormonism, a patriarch is one who has been ordained to the office of Patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The term is considered synonymous with the term evangelist. One of the patriarch's primary responsibilities is to give Patriarchal blessings, as Jacob did to his twelve sons in the Old Testament. In the main branch of Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Patriarchs are typically assigned in each stake and hold the title for life.


patriarchs in Arabic: بطريرك
patriarchs in Bulgarian: Патриарх
patriarchs in Czech: Patriarchát (územní členění církve)
patriarchs in Danish: Patriark (titel)
patriarchs in German: Patriarch
patriarchs in Estonian: Patriarh
patriarchs in Modern Greek (1453-): Πατριάρχης
patriarchs in Spanish: Patriarca
patriarchs in Esperanto: Patriarko
patriarchs in French: Patriarche (religion)
patriarchs in Korean: 총대주교
patriarchs in Indonesian: Patriark
patriarchs in Icelandic: Patríarki
patriarchs in Italian: Patriarca (cristianesimo)
patriarchs in Hebrew: פטריארך
patriarchs in Latin: Patriarcha
patriarchs in Latvian: Patriarhs
patriarchs in Hungarian: Pátriárka
patriarchs in Dutch: Patriarch
patriarchs in Japanese: 総主教
patriarchs in Norwegian: Patriark
patriarchs in Polish: Patriarcha
patriarchs in Portuguese: Patriarca
patriarchs in Romanian: Patriarh
patriarchs in Russian: Патриарх (церковный сан)
patriarchs in Simple English: Patriarch
patriarchs in Slovak: Patriarcha (cirkev)
patriarchs in Slovenian: Patriarh
patriarchs in Serbian: Патријарх
patriarchs in Finnish: Patriarkka
patriarchs in Swedish: Patriark (kyrkligt ämbete)
patriarchs in Turkish: Patrik
patriarchs in Ukrainian: Патріарх (християнство)
patriarchs in Chinese: 宗主教
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