PATRIARCHS

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PATRIARCHS (from the Greek family, ap%wv, head) are the antediluvian heads of families, and the three fathers of the Hebrew race, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The epithet patriarchal is hence used to denote the innocence and simplicity of the early ages, and the venerable dignity of age. The patriarchal government is that which prevails in a state of society in which the people are not yet organized into a nation, but form independent tribes, clans or families, under the government of their common ancestor, or his representative, the existing head of the family. The term patiiarch, at a later period, became the title of the presidents of the sanhedrim, which exercised a general authority over the Jews of Syria and Persia after the destruction of Jerusalem. The patriarchate of Tiberias for the Western Jews subsisted till 415, that of Babylon for the Eastern Jews, till 1038 From them, the title was adopted by the Christians, who applied it, from the beginning of the fifth century, to the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. These patriarchs exercised the power of consecration, and of supervision over the archbishops and bishops within their jurisdictions. While the patriarch of Rome became the supreme pontiff of the West (see Pope), the four heads of the Eastern church preserved the title of patriarch, but were nearly stripped of their authority by the conquests of the Saracens. The Armenian, Abyssinian, Jacobite and Maronite churches have their own patriarchs. The patriarch of Constantinople is the primate of the Greek church in the Ottoman empire, and bears the title of (Ecumenical, with the rank of a pacha of three tails. He is invested with his dignity by the sultan. (See Greek Church.) The patriarch of Moscow, whose authority extended over the Russian church, was superseded, during the reign of Peter the Great, by the holy synod. In the Catholic church, the archbishops of Lisbon and Venice have the title of patriarch. The latter has no superiority over other archbishops; the former is primate of Portugal. The patriarchate of Aquileia was divided, in 1750, into the archbishoprics of Udine and Gorz (since of Laybach).