holy orders

the rite or sacrament of ordination.
the rank or status of an ordained Christian minister.
the major degrees or grades of the Christian ministry.

1350–1400; Middle English

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World English Dictionary
holy orders
pl n
1.  the sacrament or rite whereby a person is admitted to the Christian ministry
2.  the grades of the Christian ministry
3.  the rank or status of an ordained Christian minister

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica

holy orders

in Christian churches, a rite for the dedication and commissioning of ministers. The essential ceremony consists of the laying of hands of the ordaining minister upon the head of the one being ordained, with prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and of grace required for the carrying out of the ministry. The service also usually includes a public examination of the candidate and a sermon or charge concerning the responsibilities of the ministry

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Having prepared himself for holy orders, he was promoted to the priesthood.
Both these defects were, by the ancient discipline of the church, bars to holy orders.
When they were elapsed, he received his provincial's command to prepare himself for holy orders.
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