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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Advocate of the Church

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(Advocatus Ecclesiae), the patron or defender of the rights of a church or monastery, was formerly called Patronus or Advocatus bonoarum Ecclesiae. Spelman distinguishes two sorts of advocates of churches:

1. The advocatus causarum, who was granted by the prince to defend the rights of the Church at law. He appeared in the secular courts as the representative of the bishop, but only in cases involving the temporalities of his church. In all personal causes, civil or criminal, the bishop was answerable to the ecclesiastical synod alone.

2. The advocatus soli, or advocate of the territory, which office was hereditary. These offices were first intrusted to canons, but afterward were held even by monarchs. The advocates set over single churches administered justice in secular affairs in the name of the bishops and abbots, and had jurisdiction over their whole dioceses. In case of necessity they defended the property of the clergy by force of arms. In the courts of justice they pleaded the cause of the churches with which they were connected. They superintended the collection of the tithes and other revenues of the Church, and enjoyed, on the part of the convents, many benefices and considerable revenues. After a time these advocates and their assistants becoming a burden to the clergy and the people under their charge, who began to suffer severely from their avarice, the churches began to get rid of them. Urban III labored to deliver the Church from these oppressors, but found, in 1186, the German prelates, in connection with the Emperor Frederick 1, opposed to it. Under the Emperor Frederick II, however, most of the German churches succeeded in abolishing these offices by the grant of large sums of money and of various immunities. See Paullini, De Advocatis (Jen. 1686); Knorre, Kirchen-Vogte, in the Hall. Anzeig. 1750; Miller, De Advocatia (Giess. 1768); Gallade, De Advocatis (Heidelb. 1768); Wundt, De Advocatia (ib. 1773). See WARDEN.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Advocate of the Church'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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