Eparchy (ἐπαρχία) was the official term of a province in the administration of the Roman empire. It consisted of a number of communities, and was a subdivision of a diocese (διοίκησις). In the organization of the Church, the ecclesiastical heads of communities were called bishops, those of the capitals of eparchies, metropolitans; those of the dioceses, patriarchs. The term eparchy is thus used in can. 4 of the Council of Nice, and by Macarius of Ancyra (Suicer, Thesaur. Ecces. s.v.). The meaning of the term was subsequently changed in the Greek Church, so as to denote, in general, the diocese of any bishop, archbishop, or metropolitan). In Russia the eparchies are divided into three classes, the first of which comprised in 1866 the four metropolitan sees of Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and Novgorod; the second twenty sees, the incumbents of which, with the exception of one, had the title archbishop; the third twenty-nine sees, six of which had the title archbishop, while the others were merely bishops.
Eparchies can be transferred at the pleasure of the czar from one class to the other. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:80; Wetzeru. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 3:604; Churchman's Calendar for 1868. SEE GREEK CHURCH AND RUSSIA. (A.J.S.)