The word "see" is derived from Latin sedes, which in its original or proper sense denotes the seat or chair that, in the case of a bishop, is the earliest symbol of the bishop's authority. This symbolic chair is also known as the bishop's cathedra, and is placed in the diocese principal church, which for that reason is called the bishop's cathedral, from Latin ecclesia cathedralis, meaning the church of the cathedra. The word "throne" is also used, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church, both for the seat and for the area of ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
The term "see" is also used of the town where the cathedral or the bishop's residence is located.
Within Roman Catholicism, each diocese is considered to be a See unto itself with a certain allegiance to the See of Rome. The idea of a See as a sovereign entity is somewhat complicated due to the existence of the 23 Particular churches of the Roman Catholic Church. The Western Church and its Eastern Counterparts all reserve some level of autonomy within their particular See, yet each also is subdivided into smaller Sees as Diocese' and Archdiocese'. The episcopal see of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is known as "the Holy See" or "the Apostolic See", claiming Papal supremacy.
Eastern Orthodox Church
- John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, s.v. "Episcopal see"
- Hansard report
- Priory of Little Malvern
- The Church of England, Together in Mission and Ministry (Church House Publishing 1993 ISBN 978-0-71515750-3), p. 103
- Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: "Ordinance of William I Separating the Spiritual and Temporal Courts"
- Saint Augustine, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (CUA Press 2010 ISBN 978-0-81321138-1), p. ix
- The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), s.v. "see"
- For instance, Communiqué of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "holy see"
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "apostolic see