Curate

From Academic Kids

From the Latin curatus, a curate is a person who is invested with the care, or cure (cura), of souls of a parish. In this sense, it means a parish priest. However, it has come to mean an assistant priest or deacon.

Originally, a bishop would entrust a priest with the 'cure of souls' (pastoral ministry) of a parish. When, in medieval Europe, this included the legal freehold of church land in the parish, the parish priest was the perpetual curate (curatus perpetuus). Occasionally, a bishop might appoint a temporary or assistant curate (curatus temporalis). This was particularly the case when the perpetual curate was absent or needed assistance. As the church became more embedded into the fabric of feudal Europe, various other titles often supplanted 'curate' for the senior parish priest. 'Rector' was the usual substitute name, but, particularly in England and Wales, 'vicar' became more common. The British Parliament passed an act in 1868 that authorized all perpetual curates to use the title 'vicar'. In the Anglican Communion and English-speaking Roman Catholic churches, 'curate' has come to mean an assistant parish priest.

The Book of Common Prayer (1662) of the Church of England refers to the clergy as bishops and curates in the text of prayer of intercession for Holy Communion. Church of England curates are officially assistant curates.

In French, curé refers to the senior parish priest, and likewise the Italian curato and Spanish cura.

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