In the 5th century, the bishops of reputable cities were called the patriarchs. At first, patriarchies were ancient churches with centres in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. All the bishops and metropolitans of broader regions fell under their authority. A patriarch has no direct authority over the bishops, but he is the first among them by his honour and faith, and chairs their assemblies. All the bishops mention him during the service and he himself is accountable to the bishops’ assembly.
The word patriarch in Greek means the first in one’s land, the leader of one’s people. In the Old Testament, the patriarchs were the forerunners of the God’s chosen Jewish people: Abraham, his son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob. The word patriarchy is also colloquially used to denote a building of the the Church Seat and administration.
In the Orthodox world today there are nine patriarchs: of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia.
Once the Pope held the title of the first among the Orthodox patriarchs. Ambition of the Roman popes to establish authority over all other bishops caused a Schism in the Christian world. Then the Patriarch of Constantinople became the first in the Orthodox world, also called the Ecumenical. Other Churches gained the rank of patriarchate in various points of time and circumstances.
The Serbian Church became a patriarchate in 1346, when Serbia was a kingdom. At first, its seat was in Pеć, and today it is in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The first Serbian patriarch was the bishop Јоаnikiје. Patriarch Маkаriје Sоkоlоvić was the restorer of the Serbian Patriarchy in the 16th century, and Аrsеniје Čаrnојеvić led the Great Migration of the Serbs. For a while, leadership of the Serbian Orthodox Church was in Greek hands, but the Karlovac Metropolitan was promoted for a short while to a rank of the patriarchy. The united Serbian Patriarchy was established in 1920. The present Serbian patriarch is Irinеј, who came after patriarch Pаvle.
St Јоаnikiје, St Јеfrеm, Маkаriје, Аrsеniје (Čаrnојеvić), Јоsif (Rајаčić), Dimitriје, Vаrnаvа, Gаvrilо, Gеrmаn, Pаvlе.