The Armenian Church maintains three main ecclesiastical orders and the Catholicos stand at the peak. The Catholicos who are at the zenith, when consecration is done, after accepting the grace of the Holy Spirit to lead the Church, then passes the authority to the bishops who in turn to the priests in the time of ordination. The hierarchy of Armenian Church is discussed below comprehensively –
The primary order of the hierarchical structure is priesthood. His job is to provide and administer renewal of spirituality and educate the faithful to commemorate Divine Liturgy. They perform special services and the sacraments too.
He gets the authority from the Bishop after being ordained and anointed by the Holy Chrism. In the Armenian Church, the priest is either married or a celibate, because after ordination, both are referred to as “kahana”.
When a celibate priest declares the vows of renouncing all worldly things, he is given the title of an “abegha”. After completing and defending the written thesis of his chosen topic he is given the rank of Archimandrite, indicating “doctor” of the Church.
A rank senior to an Archimandrite is Dzayraguyn Vardapet and that is achieved when he completes and defends the doctoral thesis. This rank is granted only by the Bishops.
The secular priests also obtain the title of Senior Priest, also known as “avak kahana”.
In the church hierarchy he is the highest order and is basically head of all the churches in the same political-geographical regions called the dioceses. He has the supreme power to ordain and anoint priests and also consecrate churches.
The Catholicos anoints and ordains the Bishops of an Armenian Church. To prove signs of authority he is given a ring and an Episcopal stuff. When the celibate priests attain the rank of an archimandrite, then he is eligible for standing for elections for the post of a Bishop.
When a Bishop accomplishes extraordinary grades then the Pontifical Encyclical grants him the title of Archbishop.
In Greek term Catholicos signify the Universal Leader of the Church or the head of the Church. Typically selected from the College of Bishops, after being elected he is known as the “first among equals”. The consecration is done by 12 Bishops.
The centralised authority of the Armenian Church is represented by the Catholicos who is also the head and the supreme judge of the legislative body. The Catholicos blesses chrism, proclaims feasts, invites or dismisses the National Ecclesiastical Councils, issues decrees regarding the administration of the Armenian Church, establishes dioceses, ordinates bishops. All of which are within his jurisdiction and responsibility. The Catholicos are elected for a lifetime by the National Ecclesiastical Council.
He does a combination of duties in the Church starting from being a psalm reader to a sexton, a doorkeeper and a lantern lighter too.
His election is done from amongst the clerks. The duty of a deacon is to assist the priests during the pastoral activity and the services.