Definition of benefice in English:



  • A permanent Church appointment, typically that of a rector or vicar, for which property and income are provided in respect of pastoral duties.

    • ‘He received from Archbishop Warham the benefice of Aldington in Kent and, on resigning it, a pension which was continued until his death.’
    • ‘In a formal sense the arrangement of these volumes was territorial, but information about rank, ownership of land, and powers to act as magistrates and to nominate clergy to benefices was given great prominence.’
    • ‘All clergy who hoped for election to a benefice in the new constitutional Church had to take it.’
    • ‘Many supporters from leading Frankish families followed him to Italy and were for a long time cut off from their properties and benefices in the countries of origin (which were often even confiscated).’
    • ‘Refractories who refused it were to be ineligible for benefices under the new order.’
    • ‘A patent signed by Marino and dated August 24, 1536, which entitled Clovio to the benefice of the nearby church of S. Bartolomeo a Castel Rigone, supports Vasari's account.’
    • ‘The church also supported approximately 15,000 to 18,000 canons of cathedrals and other priests without cure of souls, a group of benefices that were invariably reserved for younger sons of distinguished families.’
    • ‘After a papal bull of 1558 all such former monks were ordered to return to their monasteries, under threat of losing church benefices.’
    • ‘This had been the first benefice bestowed on Becket by Archbishop Theobald.’
    • ‘Immediately after his wife's death he took minor orders as a step towards entering the priesthood, and was awarded a benefice.’
    • ‘In central Francia in the ninth century, moreover, the Frankish king did not hesitate to remove benefices from church lands to give them to his vassi, or to force the church to maintain mounted soldiers at its own expense.’
    • ‘It is also possible that, as later in the middle ages, the numbers of deacons and priests ordained outstripped the availability of benefices.’
    • ‘By 1280, the Church in each country had experience of the practice of papal provision, whereby the pope actually nominated candidates to benefices, including from time to time episcopal sees.’
    • ‘It wanted priests and bishops to be resident; benefices to be awarded on merit alone; and greater care in the selection of candidates.’
    • ‘The chancery received petitions, examined the qualifications of candidates for benefices, and had official custody of the records of the curia (the Vatican Library had not yet been created).’
    • ‘Perhaps the book helped him to relieve a conscience burdened by the knowledge that he was not carrying out the pastoral duties of his benefice.’
    • ‘The distinctive grave goods of the priest developed precisely at the time when the priesthood was under reform, when efforts were made to stop priests marrying, and passing benefices to their sons.’
    • ‘Because of the large number of clergy, and an even larger number of laymen who flocked to Rome seeking benefices and positions in the papal court, the city's population contained a high ratio of men to women.’
    • ‘He established greater control over the Church in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges of 1438, which upheld the right of the French Church to administer its property and nominate clergy to benefices, independently of the papacy.’
    • ‘Latimer, despite having opportunity to preach often in London, soon grew weary of court and the king offered him a benefice at West Kington, in Wiltshire.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin beneficium ‘favor, support’, from bene ‘well’ + facere ‘do’.