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Archimandrite (Greek: — archimandrites) is a title in the Greek Orthodox Church for a superior abbot who has the supervision of several abbots and monasteries appointed by a bishop. The title has been in use since the 5th century, with some evidence of the 4th century usage.
When the monastic supervision was passed to another episcopal official, Great Sakellarios ("sacristan"), the title of archimandrite became a honorary one for abbots of important monasteries, the title for an ordinary abbot being hegumenos.
The Russian Orthodox Church acquired the title in the latter meaning. Initially in some cases it was an extra title, e.g., Hegumen Polikarp of Kiev Cave Monastery was mentioned as "Hegumen Archimandrite" in manuscripts of 1174.
In 1874 the Russian monasteries were secularized and classified into three classes, and the head of a monastery of the second or first class is called archimandrite.
The term derives from the Greek ἀρχι (archi-) meaning "highest" and μάνδρα (mandra) meaning "enclosure", or "pen" to denote "monastery" (cf. the usage of "flock" for "congregation").
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