Greek: pater, father; arche, rule
1) The father and ruler of a family, tribe, or race. It is used extensively in biblical history.
2) Ecclesiastically, by virtue of the name, a patriarch signifies a prince of fathers. This title is one of honor only. The patriarch has no special jurisdiction except in virtue of a particular law. He enjoys precedence over primates, metropolitans, and bishops. Pope Innocent III distinguished patriarchs, which follow in the order of dignity
Some of there are merely titular patriarchs at the present time. In the Orient there are patriarchs of different rites: e.g., Armenian, Chaldean, Melchite, and Maronite. There are minor patriarchs, e.g., of Venice, Lisbon, the West Indies, and the East Indies.