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In church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chur ...

bishop
.


History

In the later organization of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
, the increasingly subdivided
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...
were administratively associated in a larger unit, the
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 ...
(
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
''dioecesis'', from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
term διοίκησις, meaning "administration").
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's la ...

Christianity
was given legal status in 313 with the
Edict of Milan The Edict of Milan ( la, Edictum Mediolanense, , ''Diatagma tōn Mediolanōn'') was the February AD 313 agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire.Frend, W. H. C. ''The Early Church'' SPCK 1965, p. 137 Western Roman Emperor ...
. Churches began to organize themselves into
dioceses 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 ...
based on the civil dioceses, not on the larger regional imperial districts. These dioceses were often smaller than the
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...
. Christianity was declared the Empire's
official religion An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an ...
by Theodosius I in 380.
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor reigning from 306 to 337. Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterranea (now Niš, Serbia), he was the son of Constanti ...

Constantine I
in 318 gave litigants the right to have court cases transferred from the civil courts to the bishops. This situation must have hardly survived Julian, 361–363. Episcopal courts are not heard of again in the East until 398 and in the West in 408. The quality of these courts was low, and not above suspicion as the Bishop of
Alexandria Troas Alexandria Troas ("Alexandria of the Troad"; el, Αλεξάνδρεια Τρωάς; tr, Eski Stambul) is the site of an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiqu ...
found that clergy were making a corrupt profit. Nonetheless, these courts were popular as people could get quick justice without being charged fees. Bishops had no part in the civil administration until the town councils, in decline, lost much authority to a group of 'notables' made up of the richest councilors, powerful and rich persons legally exempted from serving on the councils, retired military, and bishops post-AD 450. As the
Western Empire
Western Empire
collapsed in the 5th century, bishops in Western Europe assumed a larger part of the role of the former Roman governors. A similar, though less pronounced, development occurred in the East, where the Roman administrative apparatus was largely retained by the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

Byzantine Empire
. In modern times, many dioceses, though later subdivided, have preserved the boundaries of a long-vanished Roman administrative division. For Gaul, Bruce Eagles has observed that "it has long been an academic commonplace in France that the medieval dioceses, and their constituent '' pagi'', were the direct territorial successors of the Roman ''
civitates In the history of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map ...
''." Modern usage of 'diocese' tends to refer to the sphere of a bishop's jurisdiction. This became commonplace during the self-conscious "classicizing" structural evolution of the
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of ...
in the 9th century, but this usage had itself been evolving from the much earlier ''parochia'' ("
parish 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, ...
"; Late Latin derived from the Greek παροικία ''paroikia''), dating from the increasingly formalized Christian authority structure in the 4th century.


Archdiocese

Dioceses ruled by an
archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ''archiepiscopus'', from Greek language, Greek , from -, 'chief', and 'over'+ 'seer') is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheranism ...
are commonly referred to as archdioceses; most are
metropolitan see Metropolitan may refer to: * Metropolitan area, a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories * Metropolitan borough, a form of local government district in England * Metropolitan county, a type ...
s, being placed at the head of an ecclesiastical province. A few are
suffragansIn the Anglican Communion, a suffragan bishop is a bishop who is subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop (bishop ordinary) and so is not normally jurisdictional in their role. Suffragan bishops may be charged by a metropolitan to over ...
of a metropolitan see or are directly subject to the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, which includes the apostolic see, apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome ...
. The term 'archdiocese' is not found in
Canon Law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or churc ...
, with the terms "diocese" and "
episcopal see image:Roma-san giovanni03.jpg, The seat or ''cathedra'' of the Bishop of Rome in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran An episcopal see is, in the usual meaning of the phrase, the area of a bishop's ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Phrases concernin ...
" being applicable to the area under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any bishop. If the title of archbishop is granted on '' personal'' grounds to a
diocesan bishop A diocesan bishop, within various Christian traditions, is a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Wit ...
, his diocese does not thereby become an archdiocese.


Catholic Church

The
Canon Law of the Catholic Church The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin for "canon law": ''ius canonicum'') is the system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surro ...
defines a diocese as "a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop for him to shepherd with the cooperation of the presbyterium, so that, adhering to its pastor and gathered by him in the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative." Also known as ''particular churches'' or ''local churches.'' Dioceses are under the authority of a
Bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chur ...
, They are described as
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor