Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access

(1,138 words)

Acolyte (ἀκόλουθος) indicates “he who follows,” and in the Latin sequens is found in the Liber pontificalis. In Latin there are orthographical variations: acolythus, acoluthus, acoluthos, acolytus, acolitus. We find it for the first time in a letter by the bishop of Rome, Cornelius, to Fabius of Antioch (Eus. Hist. eccl. 6.43.11). Cornelius wrote that at Rome there were 42 acolytes, a significant group. The order of acolyte (akolytatus) is a minor ministry, or order, that already had a history. The institution of it took place somewhat earlier, according to the Liber pontificalis, and…

Cite this page
Di Berardino, Angelo, “Acolyte”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 22 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2018

▲   Back to top   ▲