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Presbytera (Greek: πρεσβυτέρα, pronounced presvytéra) is a Greek title of honor that is used to refer to a priest's wife. It is derived from presbyteros—the Greek word for priest (literally, "elder"). Although 'Presbyteress' or 'eldress' has an equivalent meaning, it has a very small usage: most English-speaking Orthodox Christians will use the title most common in the old country churches from which their local family or parish finds its origin.

Other languages[edit]

Presbytera corresponds to the following equivalent titles:

  • Albanian: Prifteresha
  • Armenian: Yeretzgin
  • Arabic: خورية (khūrīah, from the word خوري khūrī , a title of Greek origin meaning "priest") or قسيسة (qasīsa, from the word قسيس qasīs , a title of Syriac origin meaning "priest")
  • Bulgarian: Popadija (from the word pop, meaning married priest)
  • Carpatho-Russian: Pani (literally "lady," comparable to Pan for priests, meaning "lord")
  • Coptic: Tasoni (pronounced TAH-son-ee, Coptic word for "Sister" but also used to address the wife of a priest)
  • Estonian: Presvitera
  • Finnish: Ruustinna (from the word rovasti (protoiereos), in Karelia: Maatuska)
  • Italian: Presbitera
  • Malayalam (Kerala, India): Kochamma literal meaning is little or young mother. In Syrian Christian churches, they are formally called "baskiamo" (from Syriac Bath Qyomo).
  • Macedonian: Popadija (from the word pop, meaning married priest)
  • Portuguese: Presbítera
  • Romanian: Preoteasă
  • Russian: Matushka (pronounced MAH'-too-shkah, literally means "mama," i.e., the intimate form of "mother"); (antiquated) Popadya ("priest's wife")
  • Serbian: Popadija (from the word pop, meaning married priest); Protinica (pronounced proh-tee-NEE'-tsah) for a protopresbyter's wife
  • Syriac: Bath Qyomo (meaning a daughter of the covenant)
  • Ukrainian: Panimatka or Panimatushka (pani, "lady" + matushka, loving, deminutivum form of "mama"); Dobrodijka (pronounced doh-BROH-deey-kah, literally means "a woman who does good"); Popadya ("priest's wife")

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from Presbytera at OrthodoxWiki which is licensed under the CC-BY-SA and GFDL.

Further reading[edit]

  • Presbytera: The Life, Mission, and Service of the Priest's Wife, by Athanasia Papademetriou (ISBN 0972466142)

External links[edit]