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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Acolyth or Acolyte

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(ἀκόλουθος , follower), the name of an inferior order of clergy or servitors. It is not known in the Greek Church, but appears to be of very ancient establishment in the Latin Church, since mention is made of it in the epistles of Cyprian. Their office in the ancient Church was to light the candles and to pour the wine intended to be consecrated into the proper vessels; to wait upon the bishops and their officers, presenting to them the sacerdotal vestments; and to accompany the bishop everywhere, acting as witnesses of his conduct. At present their duties in the Papal Church are to attend upon the deacon and sub-deacon at the altar, to make ready the wine and water at mass, to carry the thurible, and to light and carry the candles, especially at the chanting of the Gospel. At Rome there are three kinds of Acolyths: the Acolyths of the palace, palatini, who wait on the pope; those who serve the churches, stationarii, when they are stationed; and regionarii, who serve with the deacons in different quarters of the city. The order of Acolytes is the fourth of the ordines minores, through which a Romish priest must pass. For a full account of the office and its functions, see Boissonnet, Dict. des Rites, 1, 87; Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 3, ch. 3.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Acolyth or Acolyte'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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