METROPOLITAN (Lat. metropolitanus, Gr. in the Christian church, the title of a bishop who has the oversight over bishops of subordinate sees. In the Western church the metropolitan is practically the same as the archbishop (q.v.); in the Eastern church he ranks above the archbishop, but below the patriarch (q.v.). Metropolitans first appear in the East in the 4th century as presiding over a province (provincia or tirapxio.), and their see is fixed in the principal town (jUTjrpoTroXtj) of the province, which remains the normal custom both in East and West. In Africa, however, the metropolitan jurisdiction was exercised by the senior bishop (primas, primae sedis episcopus, senex) for the time being, a custom which prevailed for a time also in Spain. Thus, too, in the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church of America there are no metropolitans, the primas being the senior bishop.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)