Active Cathedral


Active Cathedral denotes a currently active cathedral, co-cathedral, pro-cathedral, or proto-cathedral.


A cathedral is the personal church of the hierarch who rules a canonical jurisdiction and contains his throne or cathedra.


Co--cathedrals exist when there are two (or, rarely, more) active cathedrals in a canonical jurisdiction. Technically, each is so termed and each is of equal precedential rank. In common usage, however, the term is often only used of the second church so designated, unless both are either of equal antiquity or each was a cathedral in its own right prior to the two being designated as co-cathedrals.

The most common circumstances that might cause there to be co-cathedrals include:

  • Two canonical jurisdictions, each of which had a cathedral, are merged into a single canonical jurisdiction.
  • A canonical jurisdiction incorporates two large metropolitan areas which would ordinarily constitute separate canonical jurisdictions but are so geographically proximate and inter-related as to make that impractical.
  • A canonical jurisdiction incorporates two large metropolitan areas the population demographics of which do not merit separate canonical jurisdictions but which are of such civil distinction as to demand equal canonical recognition be accorded to each.
  • A canonical jurisdiction incorporates a geographic area of such size as to demand two cathedrals as a matter of convenience or practicality, perhaps in anticipation of the single jurisdiction being eventually divided.
  • A canonical jurisdiction's own geographic boundaries cross geopolitical boundaries that demand equal canonical recognition be accorded to each of two geopolitical entities within its jurisdiction.

The dignity of co-cathedral has also been conferred on a church: as a sign of particular honor due to its antiquity, historical importance, or spiritual significance; in recognition of an event that transpired there; in gratitude for a service performed by its clergy or faithful; or, as a mark of hierarchical affection. Such is both uncommon and inconsistent with the intended usage of the dignity, but does occur.


A pro-cathedral is a church temporarily designated to serve as or in lieu of a cathedral.

Such a designation may be made:

  • When a canonical jurisdiction is in process of being canonically erected, but no decision has yet been made as to where its hierarch will be geographically situated.
  • When a newly erected canonical jurisdiction has not yet purchased or erected a cathedral.
  • When a cathedral is under construction.
  • When repair, remodeling, or reconstruction of an existing cathedral is underway.
  • When an incumbent hierarch is unable to occupy his cathedral because of war, civil disturbance, natural disaster, or other circumstance.

A proto-cathedral is a church that formerly had the dignity of a cathedral. Properly, the term is applied to that church which was the first (proto) cathedral in a canonical jurisdiction. Occasionally, the styling 'Old Cathedral' is incorporated into the church name as an alternative (an example of such is St Patrick's Old Cathedral - NYC).


There are, additionally, such designations as metropolitan cathedral and patriarchal cathedral, applied to the cathedrals which are the seats of those respective hierarchs.


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St. Theodora of Alexandria, "The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers: An Orthodox Materikon of Women Monastics and Ascetics