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Jun 22, 2021
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How Siberia grew with Little Russia

The 18th century became the century of the Little Russians not only in the capitals

“Russian power will grow in Siberia and the Northern Ocean”, – Lomonosov predicted in those years when few were ready to believe it. And already under Mikhail Vasilievich, the spiritual foundation of Russian Siberia was laid by its first enlighteners. The most prominent among them were the natives of that part of the Russian land, which for the last hundred years has been called “Ukraine”.

How many times has the Strategic Culture Foundation quoted the following excerpt from the “Lives of the Saints of the Russian Church, also Iberian and Slavic”: “What wonderful men of the Church, who all arose from the borders of Little Russia, the Lord consoled Great Russia in the glorious days of the reign of Petrov! These three ascetics in Siberia [Филофей (Лещинский), Иоанн Тобольский, Иннокентий Иркутский], St. Demetrius in Rostov, Locum Tenens Stephen in the capital, a zealous defender of Orthodoxy and the dignity of the hierarchy, Lazarus and Theodosius in Chernigov, Barlaam in Kiev! Such a comforting phenomenon is not often repeated in the annals of the church “

June 23 (ns) The Church celebrates the memory of the Siberian saints. We have already told about Philotheus Leshchinsky, John Tobolsk (the Cathedral of Siberian Saints is dedicated to his memory) of Dimitry of Rostov, Innocent and Sophronia of Irkutsk. Mention was made of the asceticism of his fellow countryman and companion of the latter – Saint Sinesius Ivanov.

But Orthodox Siberia remembers all its enlighteners.

Siversky northerner

The Reverend Anthony (Stakhovsky) became the successor of the first mentioned of them – Filofei Leshchinsky.

The future Metropolitan of Tobolsk and Siberia was born in 1671 or 1672 in Sivershchina, 40 km from Chernigov. As the absolute majority of Little Russian saints in Siberia, he graduated from the “hotbed of Russian enlightenment” – the Kiev-Mohyla Collegium / Academy (with independence, “revived” as a hotbed of Ukrainian sorority).

In 1700, with the appointment to the Siberian chair of the “golden-divine Novgorod-Siversky teacher” Dimitri of Rostov, Chernigov Bishop Ioann Maksimovich appointed Abbot Anthony a preacher of the Chernigov diocese. And in 1713, after Ioann Maksimovich became the Tobolsk Metropolitan, Archimandrite Anthony was elevated to Bishop of Chernigov in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.

In 1720, Archbishop Anthony, despite the demands of Prince Menshikov, refused to defrock Hieromonk Porfiry. On March 5, 1721, by the decree of Emperor Peter I, Archbishop Anthony was transferred to the Tobolsk See (where, we note, looking ahead, he dared to spiritually resist the Bironovism).

Anthony Stakhovsky

Anthony Stakhovsky

In Siberia, Metropolitan Anthony of Tobolsk continued the educational activities of his predecessors, Saints Philotheus and John of Tobolsk. He sent preachers to Kamchatka and to China (a Russian-Mongolian school was opened in Irkutsk to train missionaries). By the end of his reign, the diocese had 265 churches, 14 men’s and 6 women’s monasteries. The success of the preaching of Christianity and the manifold increase in this connection with the need for pastors led to the separation of a separate Irkutsk diocese, on which the saint also insisted.

After Vladyka, who died in 1740, an extensive library remained.

From Kamchatka to prison

The deceased Vladyka’s successor was a member of the Holy Synod, a native of Pereyaslavl the Russian (which is a hundred kilometers below Kiev along the Dnieper) Nikodim (Skrebnitsky), who by that time had been the bishop of Chernigov, and before that the abbot of several monasteries, including Moscow Novospassky.

Nikodim Skrebnitsky

Nikodim Skrebnitsky

However, due to poor health, the bright archpastor was soon transferred to the newly established St. Petersburg cathedra.

The Tobolsk see was taken by the native of Vladimir-Volynsky, Metropolitan Arseny (Matseevich), a pupil of Archbishop Anthony (Stakhovsky), when he was still the governor of the Chernigov diocese.

In 1730, Hieromonk Arseny was “sent to Tobolsk to preach,” where he lived for 3 years as a missionary and teacher. In 1734-1736, Arseny took part in the Second Kamchatka expedition led by Vitus Bering.

Great Northern Expedition

Great Northern Expedition

Scurvy did not allow the hieromonk to continue his spiritual service in the navy. Since 1738 he was the cathedral hieromonk of the synodal house and the teacher of the law at the Academic Gymnasium in St. Petersburg.

After refusing to swear allegiance to Biron, Arseny in March 1741 was actually exiled to the Tobolsk see. However, the new Tobolsk metropolitan refused to swear allegiance to Elizaveta Petrovna. He explained that the term “Ultimate Judge” as applied to the emperor / empress is “humiliation or rejection of the Ultimate Judge – Christ Himself.” “The monarch’s power is enough in the power to swear allegiance and obey, which is shown from the Extreme Judge of Christ in the Gospel and the Apostle.”– wrote Vladyka.

In 1742 the saint was transferred to Rostov and … received the status of a member of the Holy Synod. In 1752, Metropolitan Arseny initiated the opening of the relics of St. Demetrius of Rostov for his glorification.

Under Catherine II, Met. Arseny opposed the secularization of church estates and the interference of secular persons in spiritual affairs. The Empress gave orders to cut the Metropolitan from monasticism and hand him over to the secular court. In 1767, under the name of “a certain peasant” Andrei Vral, the saint was imprisoned in the Revel fortress, where he died in 1772.

Arseny Matseevich in captivity, first half of the 19th century

Arseny Matseevich in captivity, first half of the 19th century

In 1918, the All-Russian Local Council restored Metropolitan Arseny in the episcopal dignity as “deprived of his dignity for political reasons.” The Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000 canonized Hieromartyr Arseny of Rostov to the canon of saints for general church veneration.

From the Carpathians to the very outskirts

The next Tobolsk metropolitan was Anthony (Narozhitsky), a native of the Galician Sambor. Before taking the Siberian throne in February 1743, he was the governor of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

“I left on my own in Siberia the memory of my tireless cares about the education of spiritual youth and about the construction of many stone churches in the diocese”, – says his life. While a new stone building for the seminary was being built (at the bishop’s house), Vladyka sent Archimandrite of the Yenisei monastery Dimitri (Smelovsky) to Kiev to search for teachers for the Tobolsk seminary. And four years later, the first graduates of the seminary “Have already spoken in the churches the sermons of their composition”

Bishop Anthony founded the seminary library, donating 27 volumes (folios) of St. fathers and ancient church writers in Latin and having asked permission to purchase for the seminary a collection of books left over after the death of Metropolitan Anthony (Stakhovsky). Also, the seminary library received books left over from Metropolitan John Maksimovich.

Vladyka Anthony started schools in the Rafailov, Tomsk and Yenisei monasteries. He continued the work of spreading Christianity among pagans and Muslims. According to his charter, in 1745 the first church was built in Obdorsk (since 1933 Salekhard), created mainly at the expense of the newly baptized Ostyaks (Khanty).

Under Met. Anthony (Narozhitsky), the Irkutsk diocese was temporarily annexed to the Tobolsk. It happened in 1747, after the death of an outstanding educator of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, a Kievite, Bishop Innokenty Nerunovich of Irkutsk.

Innokenty (Nerunovich), bishop  Irkutsk, Nerchinsk and Yakutsk.  Portrait of the 1st floor.  XVIII century  (RGIA)

Innokenty (Nerunovich), bishop Irkutsk, Nerchinsk and Yakutsk. Portrait of the 1st floor. XVIII century (RGIA)

Metropolitan Anthony (Stakhovsky) also died the following year. As stated in his life, “Zealous in the affairs of management and enlightenment of his flock, he was distinguished by meekness and hospitality.”

After him, Metropolitan Sylvester (Glovatsky), a native of the Russian gentry of the Right Bank of the Dnieper, became Bishop of Tobolsk. Before being appointed to the Tobolsk Department, he was already known as a very successful educator of the peoples of the Volga region.

Sylvester (Glovatsky)

Sylvester (Glovatsky)

Under Metropolitan Sylvester, the Irkutsk diocese was again separated from the Tobolsk. In 1753, it was headed by a native of Poltava, Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk Sofroniy (Kristalievsky), to whom we have devoted a separate article.

The successor to the great saint at the Irkutsk See was a native of Sivershchina, Bishop. Mikhail (Mitkevich). In 1749, at the age of 29, he was sent as a teacher of rhetoric to the Tobolsk seminary by Metropolitan Timothy of Kiev.

Metropolitan Sylvester (Glovatsky) of Tobolsk and Siberia named Hieromonk Mikhail as the first prefect of the seminary, at the same time ordaining him an archimandrite of the Tyumen Trinity Monastery. And already the successor of Met. Sylvester, Metropolitan Pavel of Tobolsk (Konsyukevich) appointed Archimandrite Mikhail rector of the Tobolsk Seminary.

In 1772, Mikhail was made Bishop of Irkutsk. During his reign, a theological seminary was opened in Irkutsk. Vladyka became its first rector.

As for the aforementioned Metropolitan of Tobolsk and Siberian Pavel (who, like Vladyka Anthony Narozhitsky, was also a native of the Carpathian Sambor), in 1768 he was dismissed after he sent a sharp message to the capital against the policy of Catherine II of secularization church property.

Metropolitan Pavel of Tobolsk and Siberia

Metropolitan Pavel of Tobolsk and Siberia

Thus ended the era of the wholly Little Russian primacy of Siberia.

We have listed only the administrators of the Tobolsk and Irkutsk dioceses. And how many Little Russian, Carpathian, Siversky, Slobozhansky enlighteners of Siberia were not of the episcopal rank!

Just what is the Kamchatka spiritual mission of the 1740s, the head of which was another native of Sambor, Archimandrite Ioasaf (Khotuntsevich). While the population of Kamchatka was 11.5 thousand people, the missionary personally christened 4.5 thousand “foreigners”. Thanks to the care of Father Joasaph, several churches were built on the peninsula, and three schools were founded.

Archimandrite Joasaph remained in Kamchatka until January 1, 1750 and left it, as he was summoned to St. Petersburg to be elevated to the bishop of Irkutsk. However, the consecration did not take place due to his illness.

In 1754, Fr. Joasaph was appointed rector of the Moscow Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy and archimandrite of the Zaikonospassky monastery. In 1758 he became Bishop of Kexholm and Ladoga.

However, this – the Western edge of Russia – is the subject of a separate conversation …

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