• Greek: pater, father; arche, rule


1) The father and ruler of a family, tribe, or race. It is used extensively in biblical history.

2) Ecclesiastically, by virtue of the name, a patriarch signifies a prince of fathers. This title is one of honor only. The patriarch has no special jurisdiction except in virtue of a particular law. He enjoys precedence over primates, metropolitans, and bishops. Pope Innocent III distinguished patriarchs, which follow in the order of dignity

  • Rome
  • Constantinople
  • Alexandria
  • Antioch
  • Jerusalem

Some of there are merely titular patriarchs at the present time. In the Orient there are patriarchs of different rites: e.g., Armenian, Chaldean, Melchite, and Maronite. There are minor patriarchs, e.g., of Venice, Lisbon, the West Indies, and the East Indies.

MLA Citation

  • “patriarch”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 November 2019. Web. 20 April 2021. <>