Curate We add an account of the history of this office from Walcott, Sac. Archaeol. s.v.:
"Until the 4th and 5th centuries in the East there were country curates, and Cyprian mentions town clergy. In the large cities, from the 4th to the 5th century, in the East and at Rome, the churches had their own priests, who instructed the people, the communion being given only in the cathedral. In the beginning of the 4th century pope Marcellns established twenty-five titles for preparatory instruction before baptism and reconciliation of penitents. In the Greek Church cardinal priests discharged the same duty. In the beginning of the 5th century the bishop sent the eucharist for distribution to the parish priests: then by degrees the latter received power to reconcile penitents in case of necessity and heretics In danger of death, in the absence of the bishop; to visit the sick, to administer extreme unction, and to choose singers. In the 7th century the number of assistant clerks was augmented or diminished according to the condition of the Church revenues, as in the 6th century they had received authority to celebrate in their churches and oratories, chapels of ease required by the increase in the numbers of the faithful. The bishops gradually regarding them as fellow-workers, subordinated their assistants to them in all things touching divine worship and burial. It was not until the close of the 16th century, in England, that the word was restricted to, assistant clergy, deputies, or substitutes. In France the latter are still called vicars. In England, in the Middle Ages, the distinction was drawn between temporary and perpetual curates."