EXARCH (Gr., a chief person or leader), a title that has been conferred at different periods on certain chief officers or governors, both in secular and ecclesiastical matters. Of these, the most important were the exarchs of Ravenna (q.v.). In the ecclesiastical organization the exarch of a diocese (the word being here used of the political division) was in the 4th and 5th centuries the same as primate. This dignity was intermediate between the patriarchal and the metropolitan, the name patriarch being restricted after A.D. 451 to the chief bishops of the most important cities (see Patriarch). The title of Exarch was also formerly given in the Eastern Church to a general or superior over several monasteries, and to certain ecclesiastics deputed by the patriarch of Constantinople to collect the tribute payable by the Church to the Turkish government. In the modern Greek Church an exarch is a deputy, or legate a latere, of the patriarch, whose office it is to visit the clergy and churches in the provinces allotted to him. The title of exarch has been borne by the head of the Bulgarian Church (see Bulgaria), since in 1872 it repudiated the jurisdiction of the Greek patriarch of Constantinople. Hence the names of the politico-religious parties in the recent history of the Near East: "Exarchists" and "Patriarchists."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)