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Provost ( Latin praepositus ) denotes various offices in the Roman Catholic Church as well as in Protestant and Anglican churches .


The name is derived from the Latin praepositus ' head ' , literally ' superior '. It developed over the medieval Latin propostus and Old High German Probost the present provost . The ancient spelling Probst is much more common in family names than with "p".

Roman Catholic Church

Diocesan clergy

The provost is usually the head of the external affairs of a cathedral or collegiate chapter (cathedral, Stiftspropst), unless the chapter statutes stipulate otherwise. Especially in the Middle Ages he was often the archdeacon of a certain district of a diocese. Some provosts were in part bearers of some pontificals until the Second Vatican Council . The provost of the collegiate monastery Altötting is entitled to carry all pontificals with the exception of the bishop's staff.

  • A provost is the elected board of those cathedral chapters in the Catholic Church that occupy two dignities. Cathedral chapters with only one dignity are presided over by the cathedral dean or cathedral dean.
  • Stiftspropst designates the head of a community of canons of a collegiate foundation . In the Middle Ages it was not necessary that the provost was also a clergyman; often this office was taken over by noblemen, as it was connected with great benefices . Another advantage was that the provost was usually exempt from the residence obligation. If the provost was appointed by the archbishop until the 11th century, the chapter increasingly emancipated itself and later chose its leader himself through free choice. However, this led to more and more tensions, as the Curia also tried to exert strong influence, and through the direct intervention of the Popes, the posts were often occupied by curials, often cardinals. The struggle for the influence of various interest groups led to rapid changes in provost posts or even to double occupations.
    One of the most important provosts was the St. Cassius monastery at Bonn Minster . Its provost was the most powerful man after the archbishop and his income exceeded that of the Cologne cathedral provost by twice and that of his Mainz colleague by four times. Not least because of this there was an ongoing struggle for supremacy among the monasteries.
  • Propst- (pastor) is also the name given to some pastors a central parish , mostly in the 20th century with the title of provost was emphasized. The provost church (Ecclesia praeposita) is in these cases the main church of a city and region and / or has special historical significance. A distinction must be made between episcopal and papal (through breve ) provost churches.

Religious clergy

In the clergy of religious orders , the term is used differently depending on the order:

  • Benedictines : Originally according to the Regula Benedicti, the abbot's deputy in the monastery. From the 10th century the term provost was increasingly replaced by prior . But it remained for a longer time for the superiors of smaller, often not independent monasteries.
  • Benedictines and Cistercians : In the Middle Ages and the early modern period, the abbeys and convents of the women's convents of Benedictine style were represented to the outside by a provost. He handled legal transactions and financial matters that were binding for the monastery, such as the acquisition of property, acceptance of donations, collection or payment of amounts due. The provost was responsible to the nuns.
  • Regulated Canons : Here, "(Stifts-) Propst" refers to the head of an independent monastery , for example among the Augustinian Canons or, in some cases, the Premonstratensian . After his election by the collegiate chapter, the provost usually receives the abbot's benediction from a bishop. The provost thus has the rank of a real prelate , ranks right after a bishop in the hierarchy and may use pontificals like him
  • Praepositus , with the Latin form of the term, is the higher superior of the oratorio of St. Philipp Neri called. This congregation elects its preposition for three years.
  • The spiritual in some closed women's monasteries was sometimes referred to as provost in the past.

Protestant churches

Ladies pens

The provostess was the abbess's representative at the free worldly ladies' monastery . She was in charge of the property administration of the monastery and also represented it in the event of a Sedis vacancy . A famous example was Aurora von Königsmarck as provost of Quedlinburg Abbey . As with male orders, there were also women's monasteries and monasteries that were constantly headed by a provost instead of an abbess, such as the Magdalenenstift in Altenburg and the women's monasteries of the Augustinian choir women , e.g. B. in Riedern am Wald .

The male legal representative of the ladies' monasteries St.-Johannis-Kloster vor Schleswig , Kloster Uetersen and Kloster Preetz , who mostly came from the knighthood and is not a clergyman, bears the title Probst . In Holstein he was also called bitter .

Anglican Church

The dean of an Anglican cathedral is called a provost if it also serves as a parish church.

State church functions

  • Fürstpropst , provost of a collegiate monastery, who was raised to the rank of Imperial Prince of the Holy Roman Empire (Fürstpropstei); he was one of the imperial prelates
  • Feldpropst , the highest military chaplain (Prussia, other names common elsewhere, see military bishop )

See also


  • Provost. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 13 : N, O, P, Q - (VII). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1889, Sp. 2169 ( ).
  • Nikolaus Hilling: From the provost churches . In: Archives for Catholic Church Law . 126, 1954, pp. 321-328.
  • Philipp Hofmeister: Provost. In: Lexicon for Theology and Church . 2nd edition, Volume 8, Freiburg 1963, Col. 809.
  • Albert de Vogüé: Provost. In: Lexikon des Mittelalters , Volume VII., Lexma-Verlag, Munich 1995.
  • Stephan Haering u. a .: Statutes of the German cathedral chapters. 2003.
  • Christoph Thiele: Provost (Praepositus). In: Religion in Past and Present , 4th edition, Volume 6, Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 2003, Sp. 1716 f.
  • Johann Hirnsperger: Provost of the cathedral. In: Lexikon des Kirchenrechts , (Lexicon for Theology and Church compact), Freiburg 2004, Sp. 214–215.
  • Klaus Blaschke, Udo Breitbach: Propst. In: Lexicon for Church and State Church Law. Volume 3: N-Z. F. Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-506-75142-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Propst  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Provost. the origin of the term. In: Duden . Retrieved November 10, 2019 .
  2. "Clergymen are provosts - in contrast to the monastery provost of a noble women's foundation, who is not a clergyman, but head of the convent and is written with b." In: Hans-Herbert Henningsen: The monastery owl remembers ... great-great-great-old stories about the Uetersener monastery. Heydorn, Uetersen 2005, p. 8.
  3. ^ Elsa Plath-Langheinrich : From the Cistercian convent to the aristocratic women's monastery in Uetersen in Holstein. Uetersen Monastery in Holstein. Wachholtz, Neumünster 2009, pp. 97-105. ISBN 3-529-02813-4 .