Concept

Catholicos

Summary
A catholicos (plural: catholicoi) is the head of certain churches in some Eastern Christian traditions. The title implies autocephaly and, in some cases, it is the title of the head of an autonomous church. The word comes from ancient Greek καθολικός ( () καθολικοί), derived from καθ' ὅλου (, "generally") from κατά (, "down") and ὅλος (, "whole"), meaning "concerning the whole, universal, general"; it originally designated a financial or civil office in the Roman Empire. The Church of the East, some Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches historically use this title; for example the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church. In the Church of the East, the title was given to the church's head, the patriarch of the Church of the East; it is still used in two successor churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East, the heads of which are known as catholicos-patriarchs. In the Armenian Church there are two catholicoi: the supreme catholicos of Ejmiadzin and the catholicos of Cilicia. The title catholicos-patriarchs is also used by the primate of the Armenian Catholic Church. In India, an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox Church and the regional head of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (an autonomous Church within Syriac Orthodox Church) use this title. The first is the catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, and the latter the catholicos of India, but unequally same according to the constitution of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. The earliest ecclesiastical use of the title catholicos was by the Bishop of Etchmiadzin, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, in the 4th century while still under the Patriarchate of Antioch. Among the Armenians, catholicos was originally a simple title for the principal bishop of the country; he was subordinate to the See of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Sometime later, it was adopted by the Grand metropolitans of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Persia, who became the designated heads of the Church of the East.
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