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(Lat. vicarius, “substitute” or “representative”). Ecclesiastically the term applies to Christ's earthly representatives. In the Roman Church it means the pope, who (as the “Vicar of Christ”) claims universal jurisdiction from Christ's words to Peter (John 21:16ff.), and until the ninth century it referred also to emperors. Among Protestants, chiefly in the Anglican Communion, it can mean the parish priest, perpetual curate, or a minor cathedral official (vicar-choral). In the medieval office, the tithes went usually to a monastery in return for religious services, and when a secular priest was substituted for the religious he was called vicar also.

See too Vicar General and Vicar Apostolic.