A-Z: General definitions: Holy orders


religious institutions, to which those who have dedicated their lives to religion belong. Priests, monks, friars and nuns are said to ‘be in holy orders’.

There were seven grades of orders in the medieval church:
Major orders (of whom celibacy was required): priests, deacons and sub-deacons.
Minor orders: acolytes (who assisted at Mass), exorcists, lectors (readers), doorkeepers.

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