In the Greco-Roman world, ecclesia
ἐκκλησία; Latin ecclesia
) was used to refer to a lawful assembly, or a called legislative body. As early as Pythagoras
, the word took on the additional meaning of a community with shared beliefs.
This is the meaning taken in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures
), and later adopted by the Christian community to refer to the assembly of believers.
Ecclesiastical provinces first corresponded to the civil provinces of the Roman Empire
. From the second half of the 2nd century, the bishops of these provinces were accustomed to assemble on important occasions for common counsel in synods
. From the end of that century the summons to attend these increasingly important synods was usually issued by the bishop of the capital or metropolis of the province, who also presided over the assembly, especially in the East. Important communications were also forwarded to the bishop of the provincial capital to be brought to the notice of the other bishops. Thus in the East during the 3rd century the bishop of the provincial metropolis came gradually to occupy a certain superior position, and received the name of metropolitan.
At the First Council of Nicaea
(325) this position of the metropolitan was taken for granted, and was made the basis for conceding to him definite rights over the other bishops and dioceses
of the state province. In Eastern canon law since the 4th century (cf. also the Synod of Antioch
of 341, can. ix), it was a principle that every civil province was likewise a church province under the supreme direction of the metropolitan, i.e. of the bishop of the provincial capital.
This division into ecclesiastical provinces did not develop so early in the Western Empire. In North Africa the first metropolitan appears during the 4th century, the Bishop of Carthage
being recognized as primate of the dioceses of Northern Africa; metropolitans of the separate provinces gradually appear, although the boundaries of these provinces did not coincide with the divisions of the empire. A similar development was witnessed in Spain
, and Italy
. The migration of the nations, however, prevented an equally stable formation of ecclesiastical provinces in the Christian West as in the East. It was only after the 5th century that such gradually developed, mostly in accordance with the ancient divisions of the Roman Empire. In Italy alone, on account of the central ecclesiastical position of Rome, this development was slower. However, at the end of antiquity the existence of church provinces as the basis of ecclesiastical administration was fairly universal in the West. In the Carolingian period
they were reorganized, and have retained their place ever since.
Provincial church organisation
The authority of a Latin Church metropolitan over the other sees within his province is now very limited. During a vacancy
in a suffragan diocese, the metropolitan names a temporary diocesan administrator
if the College of Consultors
of the diocese fails to elect one within the prescribed period.
A metropolitan generally presides at the installation and consecration of new bishops in the province, and the tribunal of the metropolitan see generally serves as the first court of appeal regarding canonical matters of provincial diocesan tribunals. The metropolitan's insignia is the pallium. The article in the Catholic Encyclopedia
of 1911 on metropolitan
shows that the metropolitan then had scarcely any power more than now.
Provincial boundary lines
The borders of provinces have often been inspired, or even determined, by historical or present political borders
; the same is often true of diocesan borders within a province. The following are some examples:
- In France, where the boundaries partly reflected later Roman provinces, most were rearranged in 2002 to fit new administrative regions.
- A comparable process to that of France occurred earlier in Spain.
- In southern Germany, the diocesan boundaries follow the political boundaries that existed between 1815 and 1945.
- In Ireland, the four ecclesiastical provinces fixed by the Synod of Kells in 1152 reflected the contemporary boundaries of the secular provinces, but the ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses do not coincide with the present civil province and county borders. Since the Partition of Ireland in 1920–1922 six dioceses in the province of Armagh straddle the international border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
- In Scotland, the dioceses, and subsequently the two provinces, follow both civil and geographical boundaries such as rivers.
- In geographically large nations with a sizeable Catholic population, such as the United States, ecclesiastical provinces typically follow statelines, with less populous states being grouped into provinces. In the United States, there are five exceptions:
- California has two metropolitan archdioceses and provinces: Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- Texas has two metropolitan archdioceses and provinces: Galveston-Houston and San Antonio.
- Maryland is unusual in that fourteen of its 23 counties belong to dioceses whose see cities are outside Maryland: (1) the nine counties of Maryland's Eastern Shore (Delmarva Peninsula) are part of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, and (2) the five counties adjacent to the District of Columbia and in southern Maryland are part of the Archdiocese of Washington, which is a different province. Only the remaining nine counties and the City of Baltimore are part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
- Fishers Island, a part of Suffolk County, New York, and north of Long Island, is part of the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, which is in a different province.
- Those parts of Idaho and Montana that are within Yellowstone National Park are part of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is in a different province.
- Many countries contain more than one province, except those with a small population or few Catholics.
- In at least one case, a province contains dioceses that are in more than one nation, e.g., the Province of Samoa-Apia, of which the metropolitan see (the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia) is in the Independent State of Samoa, and its only suffragan see (the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago) is in American Samoa (an unincorporated territory of the United States). Even individual dioceses, let alone ecclesiastical provinces, can comprise more than one state: examples are San Marino-Montefeltro (San Marino and part of Italy), Urgell (Andorra and part of Spain), and the Diocese of Rome itself (Vatican City and part of Italy).
Eastern Orthodox Church
Historical development of ecclesiastical provinces in the Eastern Orthodox Church
was influenced by strong tendencies of internal administrative centralization. Since the First Ecumenical Council
(325), the Archbishop of Alexandria was given supreme jurisdiction over all provinces of Egypt. Similar authority was also granted to Archbishop of Antioch regarding jurisdiction over provinces of Orient. Since the Fourth Ecumenical Council
(451), Patriarch of Constantinople
was given the right to consecrate metropolitan bishops in all regions that were placed under his supreme jurisdiction.
In time, previous administrative autonomy of original ecclesiastical provinces was gradually and systematically reduced in favor of patriarchal centralization. Ancient practice of annual councils of provincial bishops, headed by their local metropolitans, was also abandoned in favor of centralized councils, headed by patriarchs and attended by metropolitan bishops.
The creation of new autonomous and autocephalous
jurisdictions was also marked by tendencies of internal centralization. The newly created Archbishopric of Ohrid
(1018) was structured as a single ecclesiastical province, headed by an archbishop who had jurisdiction over all of his suffragan bishops. In 1219, autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church
was also organized as one ecclesiastical province, headed by archbishop with direct jurisdiction over all Serbian bishops.
By the end of Middle Ages
, each autocephalous and autonomous church in Eastern Orthodoxy was functioning as a single, internally integrated ecclesiastical province, headed by local patriarch or archbishop.
Only in modern times, some Eastern Orthodox Churches have revived the ancient practice by creating internal ecclesiastical provinces on the middle (regional) level of church administration. In the Romanian Orthodox Church
there are six regional metropolitanates, headed by local metropolitans who preside over regional synods of local bishops, and have special duties and privileges. For example, the Metropolitan of Oltenia
has regional jurisdiction over four local dioceses. On the other hand, a majority of Eastern Orthodox Churches remain and function as highly centralized church bodies, each of them functioning as a single ecclesiastical province.
The word is also used to refer to a grouping of dioceses
within a member church, commonly known as a metropolitical province, metropolitan province, or internal province. The Church of England
is divided into two such provinces: Canterbury
. The Anglican Church of Australia
has five provinces: New South Wales
, South Australia
and Western Australia
, and an extraprovincial diocese of Tasmania
. The Anglican Church of Canada
has four: British Columbia and Yukon
, and Rupert's Land
. The Church of Ireland
has two: Armagh
. The Episcopal Church in the United States of America
(ECUSA) numbers, rather than names, its nine provinces
. In all cases apart from ECUSA each metropolitan or internal province is headed by a metropolitan bishop
with the title archbishop.
Evangelical State Church in Prussia
The Evangelical State Church in Prussia
, formed in 1821 (renamed: Evangelical State Church in Prussia's older Provinces
in 1875, Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union
in 1922), had ecclesiastical provinces (Kirchenprovinzen) as administrative subsections mostly following the boundaries of those political Provinces of Prussia
which formed part of the state before 1866, with some border changes after 1920 following WWI territorial cessions.
The term province
, or occasionally religious province
, also refers to a geographical and administrative subdivision in a number of orders
. This is true of most, though not all, religious communities founded after the year AD 1000, as well as the Augustinians
, who date from earlier.
A province of a religious institute is typically headed by a provincial superior
. The title differs by each institute's tradition (provincial minister for Franciscans
; provincial prior for Dominicans
; provincial for the Augustinians, simply "provincial" or "provincial father" for the Jesuits
and many others, for instance).
The borders of a religious institute's provinces are determined independently of any diocesan structure, and so the borders often differ from the 'secular', or diocesan, ecclesiastical provinces. The orders' provinces are usually far larger than a diocese, a secular province, or even a country, though sometimes they are smaller in an institute's heartland
Most monastic orders
are not organized by provinces. In general, they organise their administration through autonomous houses, in some cases grouped in larger families. For example, each Benedictine abbey
is an independent foundation, but will often choose to group themselves into congregations
based on historical connections.
- ^ Diogenes Laertius, 8.41 (available online, retrieved 22 May 2008).
- ^ F. Bauer, W. Danker, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, third ed., (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 2000), ἐκκλησία.
- ^ a b c One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ecclesiastical Province". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- ^ Code of Canon Law: Canon 421
- ^ "Metropolitan". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 155 §1
- ^ "John D. Faris, The Eastern Catholic Churches: Constitution and Governance (Saint Maron Publications, New York 1992), p. 376" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
- ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 161
- ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 40-46.
Last edited on 27 April 2021, at 18:23
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