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Properly, an ordained person who has the care (‘cure’) of a parish, i.e. in England a rector or vicar. Such a cleric is also known as the ‘incumbent’. Incumbents are chosen by the ‘patron’ and admitted to the cure of souls by the bishop (see advowson). In general speech, however, the word now denotes an assistant or unbeneficed cleric, i.e. one appointed to assist the incumbent, or to take charge of a parish temporarily during a vacancy or while the incumbent is incapacitated (‘curate in charge’). Assistant curates are nominated by the incumbent or the bishop, and licensed by the bishop. See also perpetual curate.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century) — Christianity.

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