Eparchy

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Eparchy is an anglicized Greek word ( ἐπαρχία ), authentically Latinized as eparchia, which can be loosely translated as the rule or jurisdiction over something, such as a province, prefecture, or territory. It has specific meanings both in politics, history and in the hierarchy of the Eastern Christian churches.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in its primary sense does not signify jurisdiction over ecclesiastics, but jurisdiction exercised by church leaders over other leaders and over the laity.

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In secular use, the word eparchy denotes an administrative district in the Roman / Byzantine Empire, or in modern Greece or Cyprus.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

In ecclesiastical use, an eparchy is a territorial diocese governed by a bishop of one of the Eastern churches, who holds the title of eparch. It is part of a metropolis. Each eparchy is divided into parishes in the same manner as a diocese of western Christendom. In the Catholic Church, an archieparchy equivalent to an archdiocese of the Roman Rite and its bishop is an archieparch, equivalent to an archbishop of the Roman Rite.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Eastern Christianity Christian traditions originating from Greek- and Syriac-speaking populations

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic churches, and the denominations descended from the Church of the East.

Secular jurisdictions

Imperial Roman administration

Originally eparchy (ἐπαρχίᾱ, eparchia) was the Greek equivalent of the Latin term provincia , one of the districts of the Roman Empire. As such it was used, chiefly in the eastern parts of the Empire, to designate the Roman provinces. The term eparch (Greek : ἔπαρχος, eparchos) however, designating an eparchy's governor, was most usually used to refer to the praetorian prefects (singular in Greek: ἔπαρχος τοῦ πραιτωρίου, "eparch of the praetorium") in charge of the Empire's praetorian prefectures, and to the Eparch of Constantinople, the city's urban prefect.

Roman province Major Roman administrative territorial entity outside of Italy

The Roman provinces were the lands and people outside of Rome itself that were controlled by the Republic and later the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman who was appointed as governor. Although different in many ways, they were similar to the states in Australia or the United States, the regions in the United Kingdom or New Zealand, or the prefectures in Japan. Canada refers to some of its territory as provinces.

The praetorian prefect was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides. Under Constantine I, the office was much reduced in power and transformed into a purely civilian administrative post, while under his successors, territorially-defined praetorian prefectures emerged as the highest-level administrative division of the Empire. The prefects again functioned as the chief ministers of the state, with many laws addressed to them by name. In this role, praetorian prefects continued to be appointed by the Eastern Roman Empire until the reign of Heraclius in the 7th century AD, when wide-ranging reforms reduced their power and converted them to mere overseers of provincial administration. The last traces of the prefecture disappeared in the Byzantine Empire by the 840s.

The praetorian prefecture was the largest administrative division of the late Roman Empire, above the mid-level dioceses and the low-level provinces. Praetorian prefectures originated in the reign of Constantine I, reaching their more or less final form in the last third of the 4th century and surviving until the 7th century, when the reforms of Heraclius diminished the prefecture's power, and the Muslim conquests forced the East Roman Empire to adopt the new theme system. Elements of the prefecture's administrative apparatus however are documented to have survived in the Byzantine Empire until the first half of the 9th century.

Byzantine administration

The Dominate-period administrative system was retained In the Byzantine period of the Empire until the 7th century. As Greek became the Empire's main administrative language, replacing Latin, in the latter 6th century even the provinces of the Exarchate of Ravenna, in reconquered Italy, were termed eparchiae in Greek as well as in Latin.

Dominate "despotic" phase of government in the ancient Roman Empire from the conclusion of the Third Century Crisis of 235–284 until the formal date of the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476

The Dominate or late Roman Empire is the name sometimes given to the "despotic" later phase of imperial government, following the earlier period known as the "Principate", in the ancient Roman Empire. This phase is more often called the Tetrarchy at least until 313 when the empire was reunited.

Exarchate of Ravenna early medieval political territory in northeastern Italy

The Exarchate of Ravenna or of Italy was a lordship of the Eastern Roman Empire today referred to by some as the Byzantine Empire in Italy, from 584 to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards. It was one of two exarchates established following the western reconquests under Emperor Justinian to more effectively administer the territories, along with the Exarchate of Africa.

Italy European country

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in Southern Europe, and it is sometimes considered as part of Western Europe. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

In the latter half of the 7th century, the old provincial administration was replaced by the thematic system. Even after that however, the term eparchos remained in use until the 840s for the senior administrative official of each thema, under the governing strategos . Thereafter, eparchs are evident in some cases as city governors, but the most important by far amongst them was the Eparch of Constantinople, whose office had wide-ranging powers and functioned continuously until the 13th century. [1]

Theme (Byzantine district) Byzantine district

The themes or themata were the main military/administrative divisions of the middle Byzantine Empire. They were established in the mid-7th century in the aftermath of the Slavic invasion of the Balkans and Muslim conquests of parts of Byzantine territory, and replaced the earlier provincial system established by Diocletian and Constantine the Great. In their origin, the first themes were created from the areas of encampment of the field armies of the East Roman army, and their names corresponded to the military units that had existed in those areas. The theme system reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries, as older themes were split up and the conquest of territory resulted in the creation of new ones. The original theme system underwent significant changes in the 11th and 12th centuries, but the term remained in use as a provincial and financial circumscription until the very end of the Empire.

<i>Strategos</i> Greek military leader

Strategos or Strategus, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean military general. In the Hellenistic world and the Byzantine Empire the term was also used to describe a military governor. In the modern Hellenic Army it is the highest officer rank.

Modern Greece and Cyprus

The term eparchia was revived as one of the administrative sub-provincial units of post-Ottoman independent Greece, the country being divided into nomoi ("Prefectures"), of which in turn some were subdivided into eparchies. From 1887, the eparchies were abolished as actual administrative units, but were retained for some state services, especially finance services and education, as well as for electoral purposes. Before the Second World War, there were 139 eparchies, and after the war, with the addition of the Dodecanese Islands, their number grew to 147. The provinces were abolished in the mainland (but retained for the islands), in the wide-ranging administrative reform implemented in 1997 (the "Kapodistrias plan") and replaced by enlarged municipalities (demoi).

In Cyprus, the term eparchia is used to refer to the Districts of Cyprus.

Church hierarchy

The Christian Church (before the split into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) adopted elements of political, administrative system of the late Roman Empire, as introduced by the reforms of Diocletian (284–305). Adopted elements included both organizational structure and terminology.

Notwithstanding the primacies of the Apostolic Sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, the bishoprics of each civil province were grouped in one ecclesiastical province, also called eparchy, under the supervision of the metropolitan, usually the bishop of the provincial capital. The First Council of Nicaea in 325 accepted this arrangement and orders that: "the authority [of appointing bishops] shall belong to the metropolitan in each eparchy" (can. iv), i.e., in each such civil eparchy (province) there shall be a metropolitan bishop who has authority over the others. [2]

Since the use of the term eparchy was originally linked to metropolitan rights, later in Eastern Christianity, after a process of title-inflation and multiplying the numbers of metropolitans by elevating local bishops to honorary metropolitan rank without giving them any real metropolitan powers, the use of the word "eparchy" was gradually modified and came to refer to dioceses of such "metropolitan" bishops, and later to dioceses in general. This process was initially promoted in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and later the new usage of term "eparchy" became prevalent in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the ancient Oriental Churches, and the Eastern Catholic Churches.[ citation needed ]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the name eparchy is not commonly used as the usual term for a diocese except in the Bulgarian, Czechoslovak, Russian, and Serbian Orthodox Churches. The Russian Orthodox Church in the early 20th century counted 86 eparchies, of which three (Kiev, Moscow, and St. Petersburg) were ruled by bishops who always bore the title "Metropolitan."[ citation needed ]

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