Some account has been already given of scholastic opinion on presbyteral ordination to the diaconate and even to the priesthood.
St Jerome (Ep. 1 4 6) tells us that as late as the middle of the 3rd century the presbyters of Alexandria, when the see was vacant, used to elect one of their own number and without any further ordination set him in the episcopal office.
In the Roman Church to-day the office of archdeacon is merely titular, his sole function being to present the candidates for ordination to the bishop. The title, indeed, hardly exists save in Italy, where the archdeacon is no more than a dignified member of a chapter, who takes rank after the bishop. The ancient functions of the archdeacon are exercised by the vicar-general.
It is his privilege to present all candidates for ordination to the bishop of the diocese.
V.) shows that in exceptional cases men were consecrated bishops without previous ordination to the priesthood.