In Orders or in Holy Orders. Belonging to the clerical
order or rank.
To take Orders.
To become a clergy-man.
The word “order” means not only a mandate, but also an official
rank, and in the Catholic Church, a “rule” of life, as Ordo albus (white friars or Augustines), Ordo niger (black friars or
Dominicans). In “Holy Orders” is in the plural number, because in the
Protestant Church there are three ranks of clergymen—deacons,
priests, and bishops. In the Catholic Church there are four major
orders and four minor ones. According to Du Cange, the Ordines
majores are Subdeaconatus, Deaconatus, Presbyteratus, and
Episcopalis (Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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