Under Almighty God, who is outside time and creation, the Manichaean Church worldwide has a traditional hierarchical structure. The Church is but one spiritual community among others, in affiliation and under the guidance of the Temple of the Religion of Light.

His Divine Presence, Mir Izgadda, whether in the spirit or manifested in a body of flesh and blood, is our Third Messenger and Lord of the Church. Mir Izgadda has five spirit sons known as Adamus Nuhra, Malka Rabba de’Ikara, Melekh Shubkha, Sabala, Tzefat Ziwa, and a sixth son called Karia.

The Prophet, Mar Mani, the Arkhegos, serves the Manichaean Church in guiding the flock in the original teachings of the Church as he founded it through the instructions and guidance of the Third Messenger. His own spirit is merged with that of the Third Messenger.

There are others within the Church who assist in leading the flock of the children of Light in truth, purity and unity such as overseers, elders and others. There are various denominational bodies affiliated with the Mother Church in Iran. Some of these include the Church of the Kingdom of Light, the Old Order Manichaeans and others.


The Arkhegosate is often referred to as the “Mother Church” and the “Temple.” The Manichaean Worldwide Organisational Committee is part of the Arkhegosate. The Arkhegosate is the earthly head of the Manichaean Church and all its spiritual communities; the term “temple” is used synonymously with the phrase “Mother Church.” The Temple and the Mother Church is one and the same. The Arkhegosate is operated by the Arkhegos Mar Mani Khaila. The Arkhegosate has one primary location and two additional offices. The primary location is Tehran, Iran, while the other two are in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and the United States. The Manichaean Church in the East is directly under the spiritual guardianship of the Arkhegos and serves as an example for all other Manichaean churches worldwide. Access pages concerning the Manichaean Church in the East here.

The spiritual head of a Kenushta/Spiritual Assembly is a Catholicos (plural: catholicoi) or Catholicos Patriarch; only the biological offspring of one of the Divine Messengers may serve in this office of responsibility. There are twelve central catholicoi. These are often referred to as the heads of the Twelve Houses and are given the title “Mir” and granted the necessary spiritual powers to carry out their duties. They have the responsibility of appointing others to assist them.

Kenushta is another term used for “Spiritual Community.” The Aramaic term itself means “assembly” and in a broad sense, can refer to the entire assembly of believers regardless of their affiliation with a particular Spiritual Community. In the narrower sense, the term is used by Manichaeans to indicate a group of assemblies. A Catholicos serves as the spiritual head of various local assemblies affiliated with a particular Spiritual Community; a Kenushta consists of one or more Archdioceses, Dioceses and Parishes as outlined below. A Kenushta may also have its own monastic communities, scribes and scribal library (bibliotheca), along with outreaches and other ministries. The term “Kenushta” is used in TMK 9:1. Only the biological offspring of one of the Divine Messengers may serve as the spiritual head of a Kenushta.

An Archdiocese consists of at least two dioceses; an Archbishop or Bishop is the earthly head of the various dioceses in his or her assigned ecclesiastical territory. There can be no more than seventy bishops serving at any one time.

A Diocese consists of at least two parishes; the administrative earthly head of a Diocese is usually a Bishop or Presbyter.

A parish consists of two or more individuals who worship together in a single location – for example, in a church; study groups and associations of Friends are also considered parishes; Friends retain the privilege of choosing their own appropriate styles of worship. Depending on the Spiritual Community in which the local assembly is affiliated, a parish is lead by a minister or steward. A parish can also be referred to as a church, but in a broader sense the term means all those affiliated with the local assembly in the care of the minister or steward.

Monks and Nuns
A Manichaean Monk or Nun may either be Elect or a Hearer. There is no restriction on monastic life because a person is a Hearer. All Manichaean Monks and Nuns are required to follow their monastic rule and are answerable to their community Abbot or Abbess. All Manichaean Monks and Nuns are at the same level of authority as a priest, but in some cases their ecclesiastical duties may be limited. All laity should answer to a Manichaean Monk or Nun as if they were a priest. The appointment of a Monk or Nun is by the Abbott or Abbess. The appointment must receive confirmation by the Arkhegos or the General Assembly of Elders.

Hermit / Anchorite

For more information about hermits and anchorites, please visit the St. Darius Hermitage page.

All Manichaeans study and seek to practically implement the Manichaean teachings daily, attending services weekly and making regular tithes and alms in the prescribed manner traditional to the Holy Manichaean Faith. The goal of all members of the Church should be the proper cultivation of the Twelve Virtues, the practice of the Manichaean Ten Commandments and the liberation of the Light from Matter.

This page has a list of Dioceses around the world.

Additional information is concerning the Elect Intercessors.