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A provost is a senior official in a number of
Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

Christian Church
es.


Historical development

The word ''praepositus'' (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
: "set over", from ''praeponere'', "to place in front") was originally applied to any ecclesiastical ruler or dignitary. It was soon more specifically applied to the immediate subordinate to the abbot of a monastery, or to the superior of a single
cell
cell
, and it was defined as such in the
Rule of St Benedict The ''Rule of Saint Benedict'' ( la, Regula Sancti Benedicti) is a book of precept A precept (from the la, præcipere, to teach) is a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action. Religious law In religion ...
. The
dean Dean may refer to: People * Dean (given name) * Dean (surname), a surname of Anglo-Saxon English origin * Dean (South Korean singer), a stage name for singer Kwon Hyuk * Dean Delannoit, a Belgian singer most known by the mononym Dean Title ...
(''decanus'') was a similarly ranked official.
Chrodegang of Metz Saint Chrodegang ( la, Chrodogangus; german: Chrodegang, Hruotgang;Spellings of his name in (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spo ...
adopted this usage from the
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
s when he introduced the monastic organization of canon-law colleges, especially cathedral capitular colleges. The provostship (''praepositura'') was normally held by the
archdeacon An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the , , , , , and some other s, above that of most and below a . In the it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the . An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within ...
, while the office of dean was held by the
archpriest The ecclesiastical title of archpriest or archpresbyter belongs to certain priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one o ...
. In many colleges, the temporal duties of the archdeacons made it impossible for them to fulfil those of the provostship, and the headship of the chapter thus fell to the dean. The title became ''prevost'' in Old French, before being adopted as "provost" in English. ''Prévôt'' is the equivalent in modern French.


Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden

In the Nordic countries, a provost (Danish and older Norwegian ''provst'', modern Norwegian ''prost'', Swedish ''prost'' (under the current system ''kontraktsprost''), Icelandic ''prófastur'' (from the Old English ''prōfast'')) is the leader of a ''provsti'' (or ''prosti'', Ice. ''prófastsdæmi'', Swe. ''kontrakt''), an administrative territorial unit within the Lutheran national churches which comprises several parishes (''sogn'', Ice. ''sókn'', Swe. ''församling'' (previously ''socken'')), comparable to a Catholic
deanery A deanery (or decanate) is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1. ...
. The provost is the immediate superior of the ‘
parish priest A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, priest, often termed a parish priest, ...
’ (''sognepræst'' or ''sogneprest'', Ice. ''sóknarprestur'', Swe. ''församlingspräst'') but is normally also a parish priest in one of the local parishes. Several ''provstier'' form a
Diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
(''stift'' (all languages) or ''bispedømme'', Ice. ''biskupsdæmi'', Swe. ''biskopsdöme''). Until the 19th century the parishes were not only religious districts, but also the core territorial units in the state administration, and the modern municipalities were based upon them; in the same way that the parish priest was normally the foremost government official in most parishes (corresponding to the modern municipalities), the provost was not only a regional religious leader, but one of the highest-ranking government officials within a larger region comprising multiple parishes, in many cases arguably the highest-ranking government official alongside the governor. In the church hierarchy in Denmark and Norway the rank of provost was broadly comparable to the secular rank of governor (''amtmand''), while the higher rank of bishop corresponded to ''stiftamtmand'' (governor of a larger region traditionally based on a diocese or ''stift'').


Germany

While the modern spelling is "''Propst''," in an historical context the spelling "''Probst''" may also occur, meaning
parish priest A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, priest, often termed a parish priest, ...
. Historically, the title is also found among
Military chaplain A military chaplain ministers to military personnel and, in most cases, their families and civilians working for the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

Military chaplain
s, both Roman Catholic and Protestant (''e.g., Feldpropst'' in Prussia). The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Northern Germany uses the title ''Propst'' for pastors who are the leaders of a church district (''Propstei'').


Poland

The Polish derivate ''Proboszcz'' is the official title denoting a head of a parish (a
parish priest A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, priest, often termed a parish priest, ...
or pastor), either Catholic, Orthodox, or Lutheran.


Anglicanism

In England, the title of provost in cathedrals was almost completely replaced by that of dean, although sometimes when a bishop nominated himself as dean of his own cathedral, a provost was appointed as his deputy. In cathedrals which were also
parish church A parish church (or parochial church) in is the which acts as the religious centre of a . In many parts of the world, especially in areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to ...
es, however, especially the newly created cathedrals of the 19th and 20th centuries, the senior priest (who was also the parish priest) continued to be known as the provost. This title was used by the head priests of Birmingham Cathedral,
Blackburn Cathedral Blackburn Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Church of Blackburn Saint Mary the Virgin with St Paul, is an Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy ...

Blackburn Cathedral
,
Bradford Cathedral Bradford Cathedral, or Cathedral Church of St Peter, is the Church of England cathedral A cathedral is a church that contains the '' cathedra'' () of a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Ch ...

Bradford Cathedral
,
Chelmsford Cathedral Chelmsford Cathedral in the city of Chelmsford Chelmsford () is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and the county town of Essex, in the East of England. It is located in the London commuter belt, approximately northeast of the notiona ...

Chelmsford Cathedral
,
Coventry Cathedral The Cathedral Church of Saint Michael, commonly known as Coventry Cathedral, is the seat of the Bishop of Coventry The Bishop of Coventry is the Ordinary (officer), ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Coventry in the Province of Cant ...

Coventry Cathedral
,
Derby Cathedral Tomb effigy of Bess of Hardwick (Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury) The Cathedral Church of All Saints Derby, better known as Derby Cathedral, is a cathedral church in the city of Derby, England. In 1927, it was promoted from parish church ...

Derby Cathedral
,
Leicester Cathedral The Cathedral Church of Saint Martin, Leicester, commonly known as Leicester Cathedral, is a Church of England cathedral A cathedral is a church that contains the '' cathedra'' () of a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, ...

Leicester Cathedral
,
Newcastle Cathedral The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas (1091—present) is a Church of England cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is the seat of the Bishop of Newcastle (England), Bishop of Newcastle and is the mother church of the Diocese of Newcastle, ...
,
Portsmouth Cathedral The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is an Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of th ...

Portsmouth Cathedral
, St. Edmundsbury Cathedral,
Sheffield Cathedral The Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul, Sheffield, more commonly known as Sheffield Cathedral, is the cathedral church for the Church of England diocese of Sheffield, England. Originally a parish church, it was elevated to cathedral st ...

Sheffield Cathedral
,
Southwark Cathedral Southwark Cathedral ( ) or The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, Southwark Southwark ( ) is a district of Central London situated on the south bank of the River Thames, forming the north-western part of the ...

Southwark Cathedral
,
Southwell Minster Southwell Minster () is a minster and cathedral A cathedral is a church that contains the '' cathedra'' () of a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is general ...

Southwell Minster
, and
Wakefield Cathedral Wakefield Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, is one of three co-equal Anglicanism, Anglican cathedrals for the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, Diocese of Leeds and a seat of the Anglican Bish ...

Wakefield Cathedral
, but all were redesignated deans in 2000. In the
Scottish Episcopal Church The Scottish Episcopal Church ( gd, Eaglais Easbaigeach na h-Alba; sco, Scots Episcopal Kirk) is the ecclesiastical province of the Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion Communion may refer ...
this tradition continues. The leading priests of the cathedrals, with the exception of the
Cathedral of The Isles The Cathedral of The Isles and Collegiate Church of the Holy Spirit is a Category A listed cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church in the town of Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae. It is one of the two cathedrals of the ...
on
Cumbrae Great Cumbrae ( sco, Muckle Cumbrae; gd, Cumaradh Mòr; also known as Great Cumbrae Island, Cumbrae or the Isle of Cumbrae) is the larger of the two islands known as The CumbraesThe Cumbraes are a group of islands in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. ...
, are called provost. The usage is preserved in the title of the heads of some colleges in England formerly administered by the Church.


Lutheran and Reformed churches

After the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abra ...
, usually following pre-Reformation traditional usage, and in connexion with certain churches, some Protestant pastors bore the title of provost. In these cases it was merely an honorific rank, without any special place in the church hierarchy. Such usage occurred, for example, in the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union and its successor Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg. In certain
Landeskirche In Germany and Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , ...
n within the
Evangelical Church in Germany The Evangelical Church in Germany (german: Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, abbreviated EKD) is a federation of twenty Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a ...
, the title is still used for a pastor officiating as chairperson in a provostry (e.g. in the Lutheran Evangelical Lutheran State Church in Brunswick, Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Mecklenburg and in the united Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, and the
Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony The Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony (''Evangelische Kirche der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen''; KPS) was the most important Protestant denomination in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. As a united Protestant church, it combined both ...
). In the above-mentioned Lutheran churches, a provostry is equal to a
deanery A deanery (or decanate) is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1. ...
, and, in the two united churches, it is a unit comprising several deaneries. Moreover, in the united
Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia The Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (german: Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz, EKBO) is a United Protestant Landeskirche, church body in the States of Germany, German states of Brandenburg ...
, the provost is the theological leader of the
consistory Consistory is the anglicized form of the consistorium, a council of the closest advisors of the Roman emperors. It can also refer to: *A papal consistory, a formal meeting of the Sacred College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church *Consistory c ...
.


Roman Catholic Church

In the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Roman Catholic Church
, ''Provost'' is a title of a
prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their r ...
, with a rank equivalent to that of a bishop. In a
society of apostolic life A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, wi ...
such as an
Oratory of St Philip Neri Oratory is a type of public speaking. Oratory may also refer to: * Eloquence, fluent, forcible, elegant, or persuasive speaking * Rhetoric, the art of discourse Places * Oratory (worship), a public or private place of divine worship, akin to a c ...
, the provost is the major religious superior of his particular oratory. It is customary among Oratorians to call the provost "THE father" as he is ''primus inter pares'', and a father in the place of the founder,
Philip Neri Philip Romolo Neri ( ; it, italics=no, Filippo Romolo Neri; 22 July 151526 May 1595), known as the ''Second Apostle of Rome'', after Saint Peter, was an Italian priest noted for founding a society of secular clergy The term secular clergy ref ...
. In some dioceses it may be an honorary title given to senior priests, while in others it may be granted to vicars in charge of coordinating the pastoral care in a portion of territory and with a certain authority over the parish priests who fall under that particular jurisdiction. In Germany, the heads of certain chapters under the Roman Catholic church are still known as provosts (German: ''probst'' or ''propst)'', while ''propstei'' or ''propstei(pfarr)gemeinde'' is an honorary designation for some important, old Roman Catholic churches in Germany; most honorary titles date back to the 20th century. Parish priests who are provosts have the privilege of wearing a prelate's dress (black-purple) and using a pectoral cross hung by a ribbon.


Archdiocese of Milan

In the
Archdiocese of Milan The Archdiocese of Milan ( it, Arcidiocesi di Milano; la, Archidioecesis Mediolanensis) is a metropolitan see Metropolitan may refer to: * Metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated core city, ...
, the figure of the provost has historically been an important office in the administration of the archdiocese. The earliest documented testimonies of ''praepositi'' date back to the 12th century and refer not only to the city of Milan, but above all to the rest of
Lombardy (man), (woman) lmo, lombard, links=no (man), (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = ...
which belonged to the Ambrosian diocese: the provosts were in fact the head of the parishes that constituted the territory of the
Duchy of Milan The Duchy of Milan was an Italian state located in northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region in th ...
. One of the most important prepositural offices, for example, is that of
Lecco Lecco (, , ; lmo, label=Lecchese Lecchese is a dialect of Western Lombard language spoken in the city and suburbs of Lecco (Lombardy). Characteristics It has the characteristic, in contrast with the other Comasco-Lecchese dialects, to be ...

Lecco
, which in the past was a very important strategic position for commercial traffic with northern Europe and for the military defense of the Duchy. The provosts were based in the ' of cities and officiated in the main church of the city; as with the rest of the archdiocese, they followed the
Ambrosian Rite The Ambrosian Rite, also called the Milanese Rite, is a Catholic Church, Catholic Latin rites, Western Liturgy, liturgical Catholic Liturgical Rites, rite. The rite is named after Ambrose, Saint Ambrose, a Bishop (Catholic Church), bishop of Milan ...
for the celebration of the liturgy (except in parishes which for historical reasons followed the Aquileian Rite). In some historical periods they were directly appointed by the papal curia. They also had the right to appoint the canons of their colleges and to assign for the benefit of the rents of land owned by their parish. Moreover, within the territory of their competence, they established vicariates entrusted to other priests which later revolved into rural parishes. In the case of the provosts without ecclesiastical jurisdiction over a territory, these were mainly located in the city of Milan where they were placed at the head of the oldest or most outstanding basilicas of the city. Since the provost also had the role of prefect of the chapter, the Milan cathedral also had its own provost. Following a diocesan synod presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Colombo in 1972, the ''
pievi
pievi
'' were suppressed, and the title of provost became as an exclusively honorary title preserved within the archdiocese to be granted to distinguished parish priests.


Monasteries and religious houses

The heads of Augustinian and Dominican friaries are termed "provost or prior" (''praepositus vel prior''), and those of
Cistercian The Cistercians, () officially the Order of Cistercians ( la, (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist), are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Be ...
monasteries "provost or warden" (''praepositus vel custos''). The superiors of the Oratory are also known as provosts, as noted above.


Religious orders

In some
religious orders A religious order is a lineage of communities A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behavio ...
, especially those under the patronage of royalty or nobility, the ecclesial management of the Order is placed under the jurisdiction of a provost.


References


"provost" – Catholic Culture
{{DEFAULTSORT:Provost (Religion) Ecclesiastical titles pl:Proboszcz szl:Farorz