Archpresbyter or Archpriest
Archpresbyter or Archpriest the head of the priests, as the archdeacon was originally head of the deacons. Anciently, the minister next in order to the bishop. Generally the senior priest of the diocese bore this title, but Thomassin shows that the bishops frequently chose the ablest and not the senior priest as archpresbyter. This was more frequently the case in the Greek than in the Latin Church, and some popes were altogether opposed to appointing any but the senior priest. The archpresbyter acted as the representative of the bishop at public worship, while the archdeacon represented him in the government of the diocese. At first there was only one archpresbyter in a diocese; but since the 5th and 6th centuries we find, besides one in the diocesan town, several in the country. In the time of the Carolingians, every diocese was divided into a number of archpresbyteral districts, called archpresbyterates, deaneries, Christianities (Christianitates), rural chapters. The powers of the archpresbyter were: He had, in the name of his bishop, to superintend the clergymen of his district, to execute the episcopal and synodal decrees, to present the candidates for the priesthood from his district to the bishop, and to settle difficulties between the clergy. On the first day of every month he held conferences with the clergy. He also reported to the archdeacon, and through him to the bishop, the graver offenses of the laymen. The archpriest's church was the only one in the district in which baptism was dispensed (ecclesia baptismalis). The whole of the districts was sometimes called plebs, and the archpresbyter
Plebanus, a title which in several countries is still in use. There are still archpriests in the Greek Church, vested with most of the privileges of chorepiscopi, or rural bishops. The name is also still in use in some dioceses of the Roman Church, corresponding to the more common dean (q.v.). — Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 2, cap. 19; Coleman, Christian Antiquities, p. 161; Thomassin, De nova et veteri ecclesiae disciplina, pt. 2:1. 2, 100:3; Neller, De Archipresbyteris (Trevir. 1771). SEE PRESBYTER; SEE PRIEST.