Greek, ἀρχιερεύς, equivalent of the Russian arkhierei, a term used in the Christian East for bishop in its theological and liturgical meaning: one possessing the fullness of the power of the priesthood. It is applicable to any consecrated bishop. The term is frequently used in the liturgical books of the Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Byzantine churches. Without any special jurisdiction, his position was to represent the hierarchy of Order in solemnizing divine services. The title enhanced the dignity of those holding the office of rector of certain theological establishments or of archpriest of historic basilicas and was a mark of personal privilege. Conferred frequently on major religious superiors, it was a mark of special honor to their communities. This term is not to be confused with protoiereus, the highest rank to which married clergy could aspire, in contrast to the celibate episcopacy. In the rubrics of the Byzantine liturgies, a bishop is frequently referred to as archpriest, but he is distinguished as archiereus from the protoiereus, as above indicated.
Bibliography: j. bjerring, Offices of the Oriental Church (New York 1884). a. michiels, Les Origines de l'épiscopat (Louvain 1900). n. milash, Pravoslavno Crkveno pravo (3d ed. Belgrade 1926). r. janin, Les églises orientales et les rites orienteaux (Paris 1955).