Coarb (Cowarb, or Comharba in Latin, corba; meaning conterraneus, or, of the same region) is the title in the Celtic-Irish and Scottish churches of the abbatial successor of the original founder of a monastery. So an abbot of Hy would be called the, coarb of Columba; of Armagh, the coarb of Patrick, etc. The common use of the word dates from late in the 8th century, when such abbacies had become hereditaryin many cases, and not only so, but had passed into the hands, in some instances, of laymen, while a prior discharged the spiritual office. Later the coarb became to a monastery what the herenach or airchinneach (i.e., lay advocate) was to any church, monastic or not. A female. coarb occurs once or twice (Reeves, ad Adamn. Vita St. Columbce, add. notes, page 404). Coarbs that were still clergy became styled in Ireland, later, plebani-rural deans, or archpresbyters, or chorepiscopoi (in the later sense of the word), i.e., the head of a "plebs ecclesiastica," viz. of clergy who served chapels under him as rector. See Reeves, Coltorio Visitation, page 4 n., 145, 209; Robertson, Early-Scot. 1:330.

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