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Archimandrite: Wikis

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Melkite Patriarch Gregory III (center of picture) with some Archimandrites, visiting Sanctuary of Our Lady of Caravaggio, Italy, on Sept., 11th, 2008

The title Archimandrite (Greek: ἀρχιμανδρίτης - archimandrites), primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise several 'ordinary' abbots (each styled hegumenos) and monasteries, or to the abbot of some especially great and important monastery. The title is also used as one purely of honour, with no connection to any actual monastery, and is bestowed on clergy as a mark of respect or gratitude for service to the Church. This particular sign of respect is only given to those priests who have taken vows of celibacy, that is monks; distinguished married clergy may receive the title of archpriest.

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History

The term derives from the Greek: the first element from ἀρχι archi- meaning "highest" or from archon "ruler"; and the second root from μάνδρα mandra meaning "enclosure" or "pen" and denoting a "monastery" (compare the usage of "flock" for "congregation").

The title has been in common use since the 5th century, but is mentioned for the first time in a letter to Epiphanius, prefixed to his Panarium (ca. 375), but the Lausiac History of Palladius may evidence its common use in the 4th century as applied to Saint Pachomius.

When the supervision of monasteries passed to another episcopal official — the Great Sakellarios ("sacristan") — the title of archimandrite became an honorary one for abbots of important monasteries (compared to an ordinary abbot, a hegumenos).

Russian usage

Archimandrite's crozier, Russia, 19th century

The Russian Orthodox Church acquired the title of archimandrite in its later meaning. Initially in some cases it served as an extra title: for example, manuscripts of 1174 mention Hegumen Polikarp of Kiev Cave Monastery as "Hegumen Archimandrite".

In 1874 the Russian Orthodox Church secularised its monasteries and ranked them in one of three classes, awarding only the abbots at the head of monasteries of the second or first class the title of archimandrite. Abbots of third class monasteries were to be styled "hegumen".

The duties of both a hegumen and an archimandrite are the same; however, during the Divine Service a hegumen wears a simple mantle, while the mantle of an archimandrite is decorated with sacral texts; an archmandrite also wears a mitre and bears a pastoral staff (pateritsa).

The Russian Orthodox Church commonly selects its bishops from the ranks of the archimandrites.

Western usage

An archimandrite who does not function as an abbot has the style 'The Very Reverend Archimandrite' whilst one with abbatial duties uses the style 'The Right Reverend Archimandrite'.

The word occurs in the Regula Columbani (c. 7), and du Cange gives a few other cases of its use in Latin documents, but it never came into vogue in the West; yet, owing to intercourse with Greek and Slavonic Christianity, the title sometimes appears in southern Italy and Sicily, and in Hungary and Poland.

References

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARCHIMANDRITE (from Gr. iipxwv, a ruler, and µav5pa, a fold or monastery), a title in the Greek Church applied to a superior abbot, who has the supervision of several abbots and monasteries, or to the abbot of some specially great and important monastery, the title for an ordinary abbot being hegumenos. The title occurs for the first time in a letter to Epiphanius, prefixed to his Panarium (c. 375), but the Lausiac History of Palladius may be evidence that it was in common use in the 4th century as applied to Pachomius (q.v.). In Russia the bishops are commonly selected from the archimandrites. The word occurs in the Regula Columbani (c. 7), and du Cange gives a few other cases of its use in Latin documents, but it never came into vogue in the West. Owing to intercourse with Greek and Slavonic Christianity, the title is sometimes to be met with in southern Italy and Sicily, and in Hungary and Poland.

See the article in the Dictionnaire d'arche'ologie chre'tienne et de liturgie.


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