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A chorbishop is a rank of Christian clergy below bishop. The name chorepiscope or chorepiscopus (pl chorepiscopi) is taken from the Greek and means rural bishop.


Chorepiscopi are first mentioned by Eusebius in the second century. In the beginning, it seems the chorepiscopi exercised regular episcopal functions in their rural districts, but from the late third century they were subject to city or metropolitan bishops. The Synod of Ancyra (314) specifically forbade them to ordain deacons or priests. The Council of Sardica (343) decreed that no chorepiscopus should be consecrated where a priest would suffice, and so the chorepiscopi in the Byzantine Church gradually disappeared.

The first mentions of chorepiscopi in the Western church are from the 5th or 6th century, where they were found mainly in Germanymarker (especially Bavariamarker) and the Frankish lands, and disappeared by the 11th or 12th century. In the Western Church they were treated as an auxiliary bishop, as a rule having no fixed territory or see of their own. They gradually disappeared as an office and were replaced by archdeacons to administer subdivisions of a diocese.

In the ruling house of Kakheti in medieval Georgiamarker, the title of chorepiscopus (k'orepiskoposi or k'orikozi) became secular and was bore by several princes of that province.

Present practice

Both Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches still have chorbishops. In some Eastern Orthodox Churches, "chorbishop" is an alternate name for an auxiliary bishop. For the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and other Eastern Catholic Churches, chorbishop is an honorific similar to monsignor.

The Churches of the Syriac tradition, namely the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syrian Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Indian Orthodox Church, the Syro-Malabar Church, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church also preserve the office, calling it corepiscopa or coorepiscopa. In these churches, the corepiscopa vests almost identically to the bishop and often serves as his representative to various liturgical events to add solemnity.

In the Maronite Church, a chorbishop is similar to but not identical to an auxiliary bishop. Like a bishop, a chorbishop is ordained, and may wear a bishop's vestments including the mitre (hat) and crozier (staff). A Maronite chorbishop has the power to confer minor orders (reader and the subdiaconate), but not the diaconate or priesthood. The role of protosyncellus (vicar general) is often filled by a chorbishop.

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