Autocephalous

(Gr. = “himself the head”). In current usage this term has two meanings. First, it describes any national church which is a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church and in communion with Constantinople but which is governed by its own national synod. Second, it describes an independent monastery as, for example, that on Mt. Sinai. In earlier usage it also had two meanings. First, it described bishops in the early church who were independent of the jurisdiction of either a patriarch or a metropolitan. Such were the bishops of Cyprus. Second, it also described certain Eastern bishops who were directly responsible to the patriarch without any reference to the metropolitan.