Mother-Church (Latin, Matrix Ecclesia) is a term which has been used in various significations. The ancient Christians used this denomination of a Church in different senses. First, they understood by it an original Church, planted immediately by some one of the apostles, and from which others were afterwards derived and propagated. In this sense the Church of Jerusalem is called the mother of all churches in the world by the second General Council of Constantinople; and Aries was the mother-church of France, because supposed to be planted by Trophimus, the apostles' missionary, and first bishop of that place. Secondly, a mother-church denotes a metropolis, or the principal church of a single province; as in some of the African canons, where matrix is sometimes used for the primate's see, to which the other bishops were to have recourse for judgment and decision of controversies. But, thirdly, most commonly it signifies a cathedral, or bishop's church, which was usually termed the Great Church, the Catholic Church, and the Principal See, in opposition to the lesser tituli, or parish churches, committed to simple presbyters. Ecclesia matrix, or mother- church, is opposed to dicecesana, or diocesan church; though by their ambiguity they are often confounded, and mistaken for one another. See Broughton, Bibliotheca Historico-Sacra, 2:145.

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