American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A church official, as in the Anglican Church, who is in charge of temporal and other affairs in a diocese, with powers delegated from the bishop.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A chief deacon; strictly, an ecclesiastic who has charge of the temporal and external administration of a diocese, with jurisdiction delegated from the bishop. The word is found as the title of an ecclesiastical dignitary from the fourth century. In the East it is last found as applied to an ecclesiastical officer of the court of Constantinople under the late Byzantine empire. In the West, from the eighth century, dioceses began to be divided into separate territories, over which rural archdeacons were placed, having under them deans or rural archpriests, charged with the supervision of the parish priests of their respective districts; over these was the general or grand archdeacon of the whole diocese, who took precedence of the archpriest (which see), and held his own court with its officials, distinct from that of the bishop, so that appeals were taken from the former to the latter. The rural archdeacons were often priests, having a cure of souls, as was also the grand archdeacon from the twelfth century. The powers and privileges of this office were gradually restricted, and in the Roman Catholic Church, since the Council of Trent, its place is for the most part supplied by the bishop's vicar-general, between whom and the parish priests are sometimes found the vicars forane, or present rural deans; while the archdeacon of the present day, where the office survives, holds a dignity of honor. In the Church of England each bishop has the assistance of two or more archdeacons, who as his deputies inspect and manage the affairs of the diocese, and perform a variety of duties partly secular and partly ecclesiastical. In two dioceses of the Protestant Episcopal Church of America the title archdeacon has been introduced.
- n. In the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox systems, a senior administrative official in a diocese, just under the bishop, often in charge of an archdeaconry. As a title, it can be filled by either a deacon or priest.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. In England, an ecclesiastical dignitary, next in rank below a bishop, whom he assists, and by whom he is appointed, though with independent authority.
- n. (Anglican Church) an ecclesiastical dignitary usually ranking just below a bishop
- arch- + deacon (Wiktionary)
- Middle English archedeken, from Old English arcediakon, from Late Latin archidiāconus, from Late Greek arkhidiākonos : Greek arkhi-, archi- + Greek diākonos, deacon. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“This remarkable transformation, no doubt in some degree inevitable, was actually brought about chiefly through the instrumentality of a single man, a certain English archdeacon of Welsh descent, Geoffrey of Monmouth.”
“Then he called his archdeacon and demanded him if he heard anything, and he said: Nay.”
“A poor gentleman, a certain archdeacon, arrived here a few days ago, to fill the English chaplaincy at this place for five weeks, and I really am concerned for the worthy gentleman, who yesterday read the prayers admirably, and preached an excellent sermon to his wife and two children, myself and my two servants – a large congregation, which will be half as large next Sunday, when I shall not be here.”
“There was one whom they called archdeacon, and another whom they called bishop, and the Pope was asked to allow them to wear mitres like canons, for this chapel was the chapel, and this castle one of the castles of Gilles de Laval, lord of Rouci, of Montmorency, of”
“Mrs Proudie in truth believed that the archdeacon was an actual emanation from Satan, sent to those parts to devour souls — as she would call it — and that she herself was an emanation of another sort, sent from another source expressly to Barchester, to prevent such devouring, as far as it might possibly be prevented by a mortal agency.”
“The bishop rose to greet him with special civility, smiling his very sweetest smile on him, as though of all his clergy the archdeacon were the favourite; but Mrs Proudie wore something of a gloomy aspect, as though she knew that such a visit at such an hour must have reference to some special business.”
“Churchwoman, and the archdeacon was the very type of that branch of the Church which she venerated.”
“The archdeacon was a sound friend; but he was also a sound enemy.”
“As they were leaving the room Mr Harding called the archdeacon back, and taking him by the hand, spoke one word to him in a whisper.”
“Ullathorne, and, with the exception of a single chaplain, who pretended to carve, Dr Tempest and the archdeacon were the only clerical guests at the table.”
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