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A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either

The five patriarchs of the Pentarchy sat in Rome, Constantinople (now called Istanbulmarker for secular purposes, but still called Constantinoplemarker in this ecclesiastical context), Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The East-West Schism of 1054 split the Latin-speaking see of Rome from the four Greek-speaking patriarchates, forming distinct Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch moved to Damascusmarker in the 13th century, during the reign of the Egyptianmarker Mamelukes, conquerors of Syriamarker. In Damascus a Christian community had flourished since apostolic times (Acts 9). However, the patriarchate is still called the Patriarchate of Antioch. Damascus is the seat also of the Syrian Catholic and the Melkite Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch, while the Maronite Catholic of Antioch lives in Bkerké, Lebanon.

The four early Orthodox patriarchates of the East, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, along with their counterpart in the West, Rome, are distinguished as "senior" (Greek: πρεσβυγενή, presbygenē, "senior-born", or "ancient": παλαίφατα, palaíphata, "of ancient fame"), having had one of the Apostles or Evangelists as their first bishop: Andrew, Mark, Peter, James, and Peter again, respectively.

A patriarchate has "legal personality" in some legal jurisdictions, that means it is treated as a corporation. For example, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem filed a lawsuit in New Yorkmarker, decided in 1999, against Christie's Auction House, disputing the ownership of the Archimedes Palimpsest.

The head of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church is also called a Patriarch.


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