Superintendent (ecclesiastical)

Superintendent (ecclesiastical)

Superintendent is the head of an administrative division of a Protestant church, largely historical but still in use in Germany.

Superintendents in Sweden

Superintendents were created in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. The office was similar to that of bishop but instead of being ordained by the archbishop the superintendent was appointed by the Crown. The reasons behind this new model of ecclesiastical polity was partly political, as the roman-catholic bishops former to the Reformation had held considerable political power and often used it against the king. Superintendents loyalty lay with the new head of the new Church of Sweden, that is the monarch. Albeit political reasons were important, some Lutheran theologians also considered the term less Roman Catholic and therefore preferable to that of bishop.

In Sweden proper, the following dioceses have been superintendentia:

* Diocese of Kalmar (1603-1678, thereafter presided by a bishop till 1915, when merged with the diocese of Växjö.
* Diocese of Göteborg (1620-1665, thereafter presided by a bishop)
* Diocese of Visby (1645-1772, thereafter presided by a bishop)
* Diocese of Mariestad (1583-1646, superintendent moved to Karlstad and Mariestad absorbed into the diocese of Skara)
* Diocese of Karlstad (1647-1772, superintendent moved from Mariestad; presided by a bishop since 1772)
* Diocese of Härnösand (1647-1772, thereafter presided by a bishop)

The diocese of Lund was equally administered by superintendents from 1537 to 1637, but was at that time part of Denmark.

The Church of Sweden's organisation in the Baltic provinces were created by similar provisions. Livonia came under a superintendent in 1622 and a superintendent-general from 1678. Superintendents were also appointed to Ingria in 1641 and to Saaremaa in 1650; a superintendent was also appointed to Estonia for a shorter period, probably 1622-1638, as well as to Riga and Reval.

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