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Christianity /
Greek: Patriarchos
Hebrew: av karemon

In Christianity, a title given to the highest of bishops.
The title dates back to the earliest centuries, but its implementation was gradual. There is not one single moment when "patriarch" was introduced as a title, the closest to this being Byzantine Emperor Justinian 1's recognition in 6th century CE of 5 episcopal sees: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem.
To the role of the patriarch is to ordain other, lower bishops, to administer and oversee his territorial jurisdiction.
The word comes from Greek, a combination of "pater" (father) and "archon" (leader, ruler).
The title patriarch is still in use, with a content very close to the one of the early church. There are today 9 patriarchs of the Orthodox churches: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Georgia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The Armenian Catholic Church, is headed by the Patriarch of the Catholic Armenians and Katholikos of Cilicia, who resides in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Armenian Orthodox Church has 2 patriarchs, one in Istanbul, Turkey and one in Jerusalem, Israel.
The Chaldean Catholic Church is headed by the Katholicos Patriarch residing in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Coptic Church is headed by the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, Pentapolis and Ethiopia, who resides in Cairo, Egypt.
The Maronite Churchhas the Patriarch of Antioch as its spiritual head, residing in Jounieh (north of Beirut).
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is headed by a patriarch in Damascus, Syria.
The Syrian Catholic Church is headed by a patriarch in Beirut.

Hebrew patriarchs
Another meaning of the word realtes to its use in the Old Testament, being a title for the central male leaders of the Hebrews: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and even Jacob's 12 sons. Their period, of the 2nd and 1st millennium BCE, is called the Patriarchal Age.

325: The First Council of Nicaea defines 3 bishops with power over other bishops: , the ones of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. Bishops were defined according to three levels, patterned after Roman administrative units: The highest was an Exarch; below him a Metropolitan; and then the ordinary Bishop.
381: At the First Council of Constantinople, the bishop of Constantinople is defined as second only to the Bishop of Rome.
4th century: The term "patriarch" is randomly used for prominent bishops.
451: At the Council of Chalcedon, the Bishop of Antioch accepts to transfer his three provinces of Palestine to the Bishop of Jerusalem, who with this is elevated to the same rank as the four other leading bishops.
6th century: Byzantine Emperor Justinian 1 recognizes 5 "patriarchs".
638-640: Muslim invasions into Christian territory in the Middle East, removing the effective power of the patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria.
692: A council in Trullo confirms Justinian 1's 150 year old decision over the patriarchates.

By Tore Kjeilen