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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > R > The Religion of Russia

The Religion of Russia

The origin of Russian Christianity

There are two theories in regard to the early Christianity of Russia; according to one of them, Russia was Catholic from the times when she embraced Christianity until the twelfth century; the other holds that Russia was always Orthodox, i.e., an adherent of the Greek schism, from the time when Christian missionaries first crossed her frontiers.

The first of these theories is held by Catholics, whose arguments were condensed and developed by Vizzardelli ("Dissertatio de origine christianæ religionis in Russia", Rome 1826), and, more amply, by Father Verdière, S.J. ("Origines catholiques de l'Église russe jusqu'au XIIe siècle", Paris, 1856). Russian Orthodox writers unanimously reject the conclusions that Verdière demonstrated in the form of theses, which, to us, appear to be without solid foundations. The history of Russian Christianity dates from the ninth century; by which it is not implied that Christianity was entirely unknown to the Russians before that period, for the merchants of Kieff were in frequent communication with Constantinople: one of the quarters of the flourishing metropolis, St. Mamante, was inhabited by them, and there is no doubt that there were Christians among them. On the other hand, some nucleus of Christianity must have existed at Kieff before Photius, as he himself relates in his encyclical letter to the Patriarchs of the East, sent a bishop and missionaries to that city. On account of this action, Photius is considered to have introduced Christianity into Russia. His testimony is repudiated by Catholic writers, who claim for St. Ignatius the glory and the initiative of this evangelical mission to Russia. There are no valid arguments, however, to throw doubt upon the authenticity of the information that has been handed down by Photius, as is proved in the present writer's work "La conversione dei Russi al cristianesimo, e la testimonianza di Fozio", in "Studii religiosi", t. I, 1901, pp. 133-61.

According to the national chronicler Nestor, many Russians were Christians in 945, and had at Kieff the Church of St. Elias ("La chronique de Nestor", t. I, Paris, 1834, p. 65). In 955 Olga, widow of Igor, went to Constantinople, where she was baptized by the Patriarch Poliutus (956-70), and, loaded with rich gifts that she received from Constantine Porphyrogenitus (912-59), she returned to Kieff, and devoted herself to the conversion of her fellow-countrymen. The schism between the Churches of the East and of the West was not yet accomplished; and therefore Olga, who received in baptism the name of Helen, is venerated as a saint also by the United Ruthenians. Western chroniclers relate that Olga sent an embassy to the Emperor Otto I, to ask for Latin missionaries, and that Otto charged Adaldag, Bishop of Bremen, to satisfy that request. Adaldag consecrated as bishop of the Russians Libutius, a monk of the Convent of St. Albano, who died before entering Russia. He was succeeded by Adalbertus, a monk of the convent of St. Maximinus, at Trier. The Russians, however, received the Latin bishop badly, killed several of his companions, and constrained him to return to Germany. It may be observed that Assemani and Karamzin do not admit that Latin missionaries came to Russia with Adalbertus.

The efforts of Olga to convert her son Sviatoslaff to Christianity were unsuccessful. Vladimir, son of Sviatoslaff, has the glory of having established Christianity as the official State religion in Russia. According to the legend, Vladimir received Mohammedan, Latin, and Greek legates, who urged him to adopt their respective religions. The Greeks finally triumphed. Vladimir marched with an army towards the Taurida, and in 998 took Kherson; then he sent ambassadors to the Emperors Basilius and Constantine, asking for the hand of their sister Anna, which he obtained on condition that he would become a Christian. He was baptized by the Bishop of Kherson, who, according to Russian chroniclers, made Vladimir read a profession of faith that was hostile to the "corrupt" doctrine of the Latins. Thereafter, taking with him the relics of Pope St. Clement and of that pope's disciple, Phebus, as well as sacred vessels and images, Vladimir returned to Kieff, accompanied by his consort, and by some Greek missionaries. Once there he caused the idol of Perun to be thrown into the Dnieper, and on the site that it occupied built a Christian church, also commanding that all his subjects, without distinction of age, should be baptized. The inhabitants of Kieff yielded before his threats; but those of Novgorod resisted and suffered severe treatment. The Russians were baptized, but they did not receive Christian instruction and education; the ancient beliefs and habits of Paganism endured, and survived for many centuries; consequently the moral influence of Christianity was not efficiently exercised upon the Russian people. Vladimir erected a church in honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the direction of Grecian artists. Thanks to his solicitude, the Russian Church was endowed with a hierarchy, a metropolitan, bishops, and priests. At first this hierarchy was Greek; the metropolitans were appointed and consecrated by the Patriarch of Constantinople, went to Russia as foreigners, and remained such. They succeeded, however, in inspiring the Russians with hatred for the Latin Church. The metropolitans Leontius (dead in 1004), George (1072), Ivan II (dead in 1089), and Nicephorus I (1103-21) wrote the first polemical works of Russian literature against the Latins.

Catholicism in Russia, from the twelfth century to the Council of Florence

Although the Russian Church in its earliest periods was completely dominated by the clergy of Constantinople who made the schism, the relations between Russian princes and the Holy See, begun under Vladimir, subsisted for several centuries. Russian documents testify that Vladimir in 991 sent an embassy to Rome, and that three embassies went from Rome to Kieff, sent by John XV (985-96), and by Sylvester II (999-1003). A German chronicler, Dithmar, relates that a Saxon missionary, consecrated archbishop by the Archbishop of Magdeburg, went to Russia, where he preached the Gospel, and was killed with eighteen of his companions on 14 Feb., 1002. At about that time Reinbert, Bishop of Kolberg, went to Russia with the daughter of Boleslaus the Intrepid, bride of Sviatopolk, the son of Vladimir. He strove to diffuse Catholicism in Russia, and died a prisoner. Other missionaries continued their Apostolic efforts; but Russia was already lost to Catholicism. The Metropolitan Nicephorus I (1103-21) regarded the Latin Church as schismatic, and reproached it with a long list of errors. Russian canonical documents of the twelfth century refer to the Latins as pagans, and prohibit all relations with them. The most virulent calumnies against the Roman Church were inserted in the "Kormtchaia kniga"; and Russian metropolitans down to Isidor (1437) had no relations with the Holy See.

This does not mean to say, however, that the Catholic Church neglected Russia as a field for its apostolate; for the popes always tried to lead her back to the centre of unity, and to enter into relations with her princes. The prince Iziaslaff Yaroslavitch (1054-68; 1069-73; 1076-78) sent his son to Gregory VII, asking the assistance of that pontiff, and promising to make Russia a vassal of the Holy See. Gregory answered him by letter of 17 April, 1075. Under the Grand Duke Vsevolod Yaroslavitch (1078-93) there was established the feast of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas of Bari, approved by Urban II (1088-99), who in 1091 sent to the same prince Bishop Teodoro, with relics. In 1080 the antipope Clement III sent a letter to the Metropolitan Ivan II (dead in 1089), proposing to the latter the union of the Russian Church; Ivan answered, however, enumerating the heresies of the Latins (Marcovitch attributes this letter to the Metropolitan Ivan IV, who, according to Golubinsky, died in 1166). Clement III (1187-91) sent a letter to the Grand Prince Vsevolod and to the Metropolitan Nicephorus II (1182-97), inviting them to take part in the Crusade, but in vain. Innocent III (1198-1216) sent two legations to the princes of Russia, exhorting them to be reunited to Rome. Under Honorius III (1216-1227) St. Hyacinth, with other religious of the Order of St. Dominic, preached the Catholic faith in southern Russia, and founded a convent at Kieff, while a religious of the same order in 1232 was appointed bishop of that city, out of which, however, the Dominicans were driven in 1233. Another letter of Honorius III, and one of Gregory IX (1227-41) encouraged the Russians of Pskof to realize their intention of embracing Catholicism. All of these efforts were in vain, it was only in Galicia that the solicitude of the popes was attended with some favourable results. Innocent IV (1243-54) had continuous relations with the Grand Prince Daniel Romanovitch (1229-64), who hoped for the assistance of the West to throw off the Tatar yoke; the pope's nuncio to the King of Poland in 1254 crowned the grand prince as king at the city of Dorogtchin. But through dissension among the princes of the West the assistance that the pope promised to Daniel was not given, and in 1256 the latter repudiated his union with Rome. The same pope made efforts to convert to Catholicism the national hero, Alexander Nevski, whose father had abjured the errors of the schism before the pontifical legate Giovanni da Pian Carpino. In 1248 Innocent IV wrote to the Prince Alexander Nevski, exhorting the latter to embrace Catholicism; and in another letter the same pope asserts that the conversion of that prince took place. Russian writers however are unanimous in considering their national hero a champion of the Orthodox faith, who refused to submit to Rome.

Under John XXII (1316-34) Catholicism was propagated in Lithuania, where it had its martyrs. Gedimin (1315-45), although a pagan, wrote a letter to John XXII, declaring that Franciscans and Dominicans were authorized to preach in his principality. Paganism was firmly rooted in the people, and in 1332 fourteen Franciscans were massacred at Vilna. In 1323 the same pope re-established the Latin Diocese of Kieff, to which he appointed a Dominican. Catholicism became preponderant in Lithuania, when Hedwig, Queen of Poland, married Jagello, and the two states were united into a single kingdom. Jagello embraced Catholicism in 1386, called Polish priests to Lithuania, and, like Vladimir the Great, resorted to violence to convert his subjects. Many Russians were converted to Catholicism, and Vilna became the see of a Latin bishop.

In 1436 the Russian Church, which was still dependent upon Constantinople, had as metropolitan Isidor (1436-41), a Greek, native of Thessalonica, and staunch adherent of the cause of the union. This prelate on 8 Sept., 1437, with Avraam, Bishop of Suzdal, and many clergymen and laymen, went to the Council of Florence, where he ardently defended the union; and by a Brief of 17 Aug., 1438, Eugene IV named him legate a latere for Lithuania, Livonia, and Russia. Avraam of Suzdal, however, was not a partizan of the union; and leaving Isidor, returned alone to Russia. Isidor sent an encyclical letter to the Russians (5 March, 1440), extolling the union that had been concluded at Florence. Upon his return to Moscow, however, Prince Vasili Vasilevitch convened a council, condemned the work of the metropolitan, and imprisoned the latter in the Monastery of the Miracles (Tchudoff); but Isidor succeeded in making his escape, and found asylum in Italy. Wherefore, Russia did not accept the decree of union of the Council of Florence; on the contrary, she drew from it arguments to proclaim the superiority of her Orthodox faith over the pliant faith of the Greeks, and to prepare the way for her religious autonomy.

Catholicism in Russia from the Council of Florence to the present time

Isidor resigned the Metropolitan See of Kieff about 1458, and in the same year Pius II appointed Gregor the Bulgarian, who was a disciple and companion of the former metropolitan, and who, according to the historian Golubinski, remained united to Rome until 1470, after which he became Orthodox, and died in 1472. Among his successors who were friendly to the union were Mikhail Drucki (1475-80), Semion (1481-88), Jonah Glezna (1492-94), Makap (1495-97), and Josef Soltan, who in 1500 wrote a letter to Alexander VI asking for papal confirmation of his metropolitan dignity. At the death of Josef II, which according to Stroeff was in 1519, the Metropolitanate of Kieff became again wholly Orthodox.

After the Council of Florence, the fanaticism of the Russians in regard to the Latin Church increased. The Latins were not even considered citizens. They were not allowed to build churches in Russian cities. The popes, however, did not cease their efforts to effect a reconciliation between Russia and the Roman See. An event that should have hastened the attainment of that end served only to widen the breach between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. There lived at Rome under the tutelage of the popes and the spiritual guidance of Cardinal Bessarion the Greek Princess Zoe, daughter of Thomas Palæologus, Despot of Morea; and Paul II, wishing ardently to induce the Russians to join the princes of the West in a crusade against the Turks, proposed to offer the hand of Zoe to Ivan Vasilevitch III (1462-1505); but death overtook him before he was able to bring about the realization of his purpose. Sixtus IV (1471-84) continued the policy of his predecessor. Ivan III received the proposal with enthusiasm. On 12 Nov., 1472 Zoe with a numerous suite arrived at Moscow, and the Metropolitan Philip I (1464-73) united her in marriage with Ivan. But the hopes of union to which this marriage had given rise vanished. Ivan would not hear the propositions of the Bishop Antonio, who as legate of the Holy See had accompanied Zoe; while the latter passed over to the schism. Ivan III and the Russians thought only of drawing profit from the good will of the popes. The grand prince, having married a princess of the imperial house of Palæologus, formulated claims to the throne of Byzantium; while the Russians began to regard Moscow as the third Rome, which should inherit the prerogatives of the first and of the second.

Several embassies of Leo X and of Clement VII to the Prince Basil Ivanovitch (1505-33) were without favourable results for the union. Julius III and Pius IV invited Ivan the Terrible to send delegates to the Council of Trent; while Pius V in his turn invited him to join a crusade against the Turks but Sigismund, King of Poland, and Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, prevented the legates of the pope from crossing the Russian frontiers, or rendered their missions fruitless. In 1580 Ivan the Terrible, menaced by the victorious arms of Báthori, King of Poland (1576-86), and of the Swedes, sent to Gregory XIII an embassy at the head of which was Leontius Tchevrigin. The Holy See, although placing little faith in the promises of the tsar, sent to Moscow one of the most eminent men of his day, the Jesuit Antonio Possevino, who, on 22 Feb., 1582, had a theological disputation with the tsar. Possevino was well received at the Court of Moscow, but his apostolic efforts were without result. He returned on 15 March, 1582, in company with Jacob Molvianinoff, legate of the tsar, and bearer of a letter to Gregory XIII. In that letter Ivan the Terrible did not refer to the union. Possevino had relations also with the successor of Ivan, Feodor Ivanovitch, and with Constantine II, Prince of Ostrog, the great champion of Orthodoxy in the sixteenth century; always, however, with unfavourable results. The advent of the False Demetrius and his marriage with the heiress of the Waywodes of Sandomir gave hopes that Russia would see a Catholic dynasty on its throne. Demetrius, indeed, had been converted to Catholicism in 1604, and had entered into relations with the Holy See, which, through its nuncios in Poland, proceeded to confirm him in the Catholic faith, and to maintain his devotion to the Roman Church. Demetrius gave to the Holy See the happiest hopes for the conversion of Russia; but through a conspiracy on 27 May, 1606 he lost the crown and his life. Fanatical Russian writers charge the popes with responsibility for the turbulence that followed the advent to the throne of the False Demetrius; but the letters of the Roman pontiffs refute that calumny decisively.

In 1675 the Tsar Alexis (1645-76) sent, as ambassador to Clement X, General Paul Menesius, a Catholic. The object of this embassy was to promote an alliance of the Christian princes against the Turks. The Russian legate was received with great distinction. No happy results, however, attended his mission from a religious point of view. During the reign of Alexis, strenuous efforts were made to draw Russia towards Catholicism by a famous Croatian missionary, George Krizhanitch, a student of the Propaganda, on whose life and works Professor Bielokuroff recently wrote several valuable volumes rich in documents. Krizhanitch is regarded as one of the pioneers of Panslavism; but his efforts to bring Russia to the Catholic Church cost him, in 1661, an exile to Siberia, whence he was unable to return to Moscow until 1676, after the death of Alexis.

In 1684 the Jesuit Father Schmidt established himself at Moscow as chaplain to the embassy from Vienna. In 1685 another Jesuit, Father Albert Debois was the bearer of a letter from Innocent XI to the Tsar; and in 1687 Father Giovanni Vota, also of the Society of Jesus, advocated at Moscow the need of Russia to unite herself to the Church of Rome. The Emperor of Germany, Leopold I (1657-1705), obtained permission for the Jesuits to open a school at Moscow, where they established a house. Their work would have been very favourable for the Church, for under the influence of Catholic theology a band of learned Orthodox theologians, led by the hiqumeno Sylvester Medvedeff, supported certain Latin doctrines, especially the Epiklesis. Unfortunately however two fanatical Greek monks, Joannikius and Sophronius Likhudes, excited the fanaticism of the Russians against the Latins at Moscow, and when Peter the Great freed himself of the tutelage of his sister Sophia in 1689, the Jesuits were expelled from Moscow. The schismatic Patriarch Joachim, a man actuated by hatred for foreigners, and in particular for Catholics, had much to do with that expulsion. The reforms of Peter the Great did not better the condition of Catholicism in Russia. In the first years of his reign he showed deference to the Catholic Church; he granted permission to the Catholics in 1691 to build a church at Moscow, and to summon Jesuits for its service; in 1707 he sent an embassy to Clement XI, to induce that pontiff not to recognize Stanislaus Leszczynski as King of Poland, to which dignity the latter had been elected by the Diet of Warsaw on 12 July, 1704; he promised the pope to promulgate a constitution that would establish, in favour of Catholicism, the freedom of worship that had been promised, but never maintained. During his sojourn at Paris in 1717 he received from various doctors of the Sorbonne a scheme for the union, to which he caused Theophanus Prokopovitch and Stepan Gavorski to reply in 1718. In order to captivate the Russians, the doctors of the Sorbonne had worked Gallican ideas into that scheme, regarding the primacy of the pope and his authority.

Peter the Great, however, was inimical to Catholicism. His religious views were influenced by Prokopovitch, a man of great learning, but a courtier by nature, and a bitter enemy of the Roman Church. Peter the Great revealed his anti-Catholic hatred when, at Polotsk in 1705, he killed with his own hand the Basilian Theophanus Kolbieczynski, as also by many other measures; he caused the most offensive calumnies against Catholicism to be disseminated in Russia; he expelled the Jesuits in 1719; he issued ukases to draw Catholics to Orthodoxy, and to prevent the children of mixed marriages from being Catholics; and finally, he celebrated in 1722 and in 1725 monstrous orgies as parodies of the conclave, casting ridicule on the pope and the Roman court.

From the time of Peter the Great to Alexander I, the history of Catholicism in Russia is a continuous struggle against Russian legislation: laws that embarrassed the action of Catholicism in Russia that favoured the apostasy of Catholics, and reduced the Catholic clergy to impotence were multiplied each year, and constituted a Neronian code. In 1727, to put a stop to Catholic propaganda in the Government of Smolensk, Catholic priests were prohibited from entering that province, or, having entered it, were prohibited from occupying themselves with religious matters; the nobility was forbidden to leave the Orthodox communion, to have Catholic teachers, to go to foreign countries, or to marry Catholic women. In 1735 the Empress Anna Ivanovna prohibited Catholic propaganda among Orthodox Russians under the severest penalties. Illustrious converts, like Alexei Ladygenski and Mikhail Galitzin, were treated with the most inhuman barbarity on account of their conversion. In 1747 the government expelled from Astrakhan the Capuchins who were making many conversions to Catholicism among the Armenians.

Under Catharine II (1762-96) the condition of Catholics became worse than before, notwithstanding the ukases of religious tolerance that the empress promulgated. The ukase of 22 July, 1763 authorized the Catholics to build chapels and churches of stone. Another ukase of 23 Feb., 1769 promulgated the ecclesiastical constitution of the Catholics. This constitution established two parishes, at St. Petersburg and Moscow, and placed them in charge of the Reformed Franciscans and the Capuchins. It provided that the number of parishes should not be greater than nine; and it strictly prohibited Catholic priests, residing in Russia, from proselytizing among Orthodox Russians.

The first dismemberment of Poland (1772) brought a strong body of Catholics to Russia, and Catharine II proposed to make of them a national Church, independent of Rome. Unfortunately an ambitious Polish bishop, Stanislaus Siestrzencewicz, entered into her views, and a ukase of 23 May, 1774 established the Diocese of White Russia, with its episcopal see at Mohileff, its first bishop being Siestrzencewicz, Vicar-General of Vilna. This personage is judged variously by historians. Pierling, Zalenski, and Markovitch treat him as an ambitious man who sought to become patriarch of all the Catholics in Russia, and who in his heart hated the Roman See. Godlewski on the contrary is inclined to excuse him, and to believe that the difficult conditions of Catholicism in Russia, possibly led him to adopt measures that appear to have been injurious to Catholic interests. According to Markovitch, during his long episcopate (1774-1826), Siestrzencewicz was the scourge of the Catholic Church of both rites in Russia. By her manifestos of 1779 Catharine II began the systematic destruction of the religious orders, withdrawing them from the authority of their religious superiors, and putting them under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mohileff. The latter in 1782 was raised to the archiepiscopal dignity, and in 1784 received the pallium from the Apostolic Legate, Mgr. Giovanni Andrea Archetti, Archbishop of Chalcedon. He assumed episcopal jurisdiction over all the Catholics of the Russian Empire, and acted as if he were independent of the Holy See.

The sound principles of Catholicism, however, were maintained and propagated by the Jesuits who, suppressed by the Holy See and exiled from the Catholic nations, found an asylum and the centre of their future revival in Russia. In 1779 Catharine II invited the Jesuits to exercise their ministry in White Russia, and in 1786 they had in Russia six colleges and 178 members. Their number increased so much that Pius VII re-established their order for Russia, where it returned to life under Father Gruber. In 1801 the society had 262 members, and 347 in 1811. The Jesuits retained a lively gratitude for the hospitality that they had received in Russia, and worked with zeal to convert it to Catholicism.

The Second and Third Partitions of Poland (1793-94) considerably increased the number of Catholics in Russia; Catharine II promised them the free exercise of their religion, their rights of property and those of their Church, and their complete independence of the civil power. These promises were deceptive, as was shown by the destruction of the Ruthenian Church, accomplished by her order. The Catholics of the Latin Rite also soon had cause to remember that they were under the domination of implacable enemies. The Catholics had awaited the death of Catharine and the advent to the throne of Paul I (1796-1801), to better their condition. In 1797 Archbishop Lorenzo Litta, legate a latere of the Holy See, arrived at St. Petersburg, where he was received with great honours. The Catholics who had been exiled to Siberia were recalled; the Sees of Lutzk, Vilna, Kamenetz, Minsk, and Samogitia (the ancient Diocese of Livonia) were created; the archiepiscopal See of Mohileff was declared metropolitan, which it still is; and the government granted an indemnity to the clergy for the property that had been taken from them. In 1802 the number of the faithful amounted to 1,635,490, of adults alone. Paul I showed a special predilection for the Jesuits, and reposed great confidence in Father Gruber; he called them to St. Petersburg, where he authorized them to open schools and seminaries, while he obtained from Pius VII a Brief (7 March, 1801), re-establishing the society in Russia.

Under Alexander I diplomatic relations were established between the Holy See and the Russian Government. In 1802 a Russian legation was established at Rome, while Pius VII on his part named an Apostolic nuncio to St. Petersburg, Mgr. Arezzo, Archbishop of Seleucia. The affairs of the Catholic Church in Russia were to be administered by the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical College, created in imitation of the Synod of St. Petersburg. This college had been approved by Alexander I, through his ukase of 21 Nov., 1801. Siestrzencewicz of course was selected as its president; and the Russian Government, in its Note of 13 Dec., 1803, asked of the Holy See such powers for him as would have rendered him independent. The Sovereign Pontiff opposed a determined resistance to these demands, and the Ecclesiastical College was henceforward merely a name. In 1804 Mgr. Arezzi, the Apostolic nuncio, in view of the disagreements between the Russian Government and the Holy See, left St. Petersburg; whereupon Siestrzencewicz had a free hand, and devoted himself to discrediting Catholicism by proposing as bishops of the vacant sees men who were corrupt or allied to the government, by persecuting the religious orders, by granting divorces arbitrarily, by favouring the English Bible Society, and finally, by surrounding himself with assistants of evil mind and heart. Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Russia were resumed in 1815. The Russian plenipotentiary, Baron de Tuyll, had colloquies with Cardinal della Somaglia in regard to the union of the two Churches, which, however, were without result, for the Russian Government declared that the union was impossible so long as the Holy See wished to impose its dogmatic teachings and its disciplinary practices upon the Russians. Meanwhile, Siestrzencewicz made use of the renewal of relations between Rome and St. Petersburg to seek through the Russian Government new favours and concessions, e.g. the nomination of episcopal candidates by the tsar, the title of Primate, matrimonial dispensations, etc. In other words, it was a question of imitating the canonical legislation of the Orthodox Church, and of harnessing Catholicism to the car of the State. The Holy See merely granted to the Metropolitan of Mohileff the honorary title of primate, without any additional jurisdiction, and authorized a small number of priests to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation with oil blessed by the bishop. The various efforts of the Russian Government to establish a primate, with patriarchal, almost I independent powers in Russia were always thwarted by the determined resistance of the Holy See.

The most painful occurrence in the history of Catholicism during the reign of Alexander I was the expulsion of the Jesuits from Russia, the pretext for which was the conversion of Prince Alexander Galitzin to the Catholic faith. The Jesuits were expelled from St. Petersburg during the night of 22-23 Dec., 1815, and the Catholic parish church of St. Catharine was given to the Dominicans. The Jesuits were relegated to Polotsk; later, however, by the ukase of 25 March, 1820, they were exiled from Russian territory. On the other hand, as many nobles of the former Polish provinces, subjects of Russia, sent their children abroad to be educated by the Jesuits, the government provided that young Catholics should not leave Russia. In the last years of his reign Alexander I showed more sympathy for Catholicism, and the relations of the Holy See with the Russian Government were cordial during the pontificate of Leo XII and the sojourn of the Chevalier Italinski at Rome as Russian minister. The Holy See obtained the concession that the Russian Government would pay to the Datary 1000 scudi for the Bulls of Catholic archbishops in Russia, and 800 scudi for those of bishops; Alexander I also allowed a Catholic chapel to be erected at the imperial residence of Tsarskoye Selo, and gave 40,000 roubles for its construction. He proposed to visit Rome, and, according to an unauthenticated historical report, to abjure Orthodoxy. There are Catholic writers who affirm that Alexander I and his consort became Catholics; but there is no documentary evidence in support of this.

The reign of Nicholas I was a long period of persecution and suffering for Catholics in Russia. In 1826 the Holy See sent Mgr. Bernetti to St. Petersburg, to be present at the coronation. He was well received by the tsar, and thereafter wrote optimistically to Rome. Soon, however, the trials of the Catholics began. By two ukases in 1828 the admission of novices in the religious orders, and of clerics in the seminaries, was made very difficult, if not quite impossible; and in the following year all the novitiates were closed. In 1830 other ukases encouraged divorce among Catholics, prohibited Catholic religious propaganda among the Orthodox, the hearing the confessions of foreigners, and changes of residence among the clergy.

The Polish insurrection of 1830 and 1831 intensified the persecution against the Latin Catholics. In 1832 the Russian Government asked of the "Roman Ecclesiastical College" that the number of convents be diminished. Of 300 monasteries in the Diocese of Mohileff 202 were closed; while the administrator of that diocese, Bishop Szczyt, who had opposed this reduction was sent to Siberia. In the same year the publication of Papal Bulls in Russia was prohibited. In June and September, 1832 respectively the Holy See addressed two notes to the Russian Government, lamenting the disabilities to which Catholics were subjected in Russia, and the innovations which had been introduced into ecclesiastical discipline. The government blamed the Polish revolutionists for its severity. On 9 June, 1832, yielding to the Russian Government, Gregory XVI addressed his Encyclical to the Polish clergy, urging obedience to the civil power in civil matters. The encyclical aroused great discontent among the Poles, and did not deter the Russian Government from its purpose of annihilating Catholicism. The Government directed its blows against Catholics, more especially by laws concerning mixed marriages, by preventing Catholic priests from ministering to the United Catholics, and by calling to the episcopal sees men who were devoted to its policy, e.g. Mgr. Pawlowski, who was named Archbishop of Mohileff in 1841. The Holy See could no longer remain silent in the presence of this violence, and in his Allocution to the solemn Consistory of 22 July, 1842, Gregory XVI called the attention of the Catholic world to the painful oppression to which Catholicism was subjected in Russia; and his protests were more serious and energetic, when in 1845, upon the occasion of the visit of the tsar to Rome, he had an interview with the latter which resulted in the concordat of 3 Aug., 1847, by which there were established in Russia an archbishopric and six episcopal sees, and in Poland, the same number of dioceses that had been established by the Bull of Pius VII of 30 June, 1818. The concordat repealed several iniquitous laws that had been promulgated against Catholics, placed the seminaries and the ecclesiastical academy of St. Petersburg under the jurisdiction of the ordinary, and recognized to a somewhat greater degree the authority of the Holy See over the bishops. The Tsar Nicholas, by a letter of 15 Nov., 1847, ratified the concordat of 3 Aug., which, like so many other Russian laws was destined to remain a dead Letter. Obstacles were placed to the determination of the boundaries of dioceses; 21 convents were suppressed by a ukase of 18 July, 1850; while Catholics were prohibited from restoring their churches and from building new ones; from preaching sermons that had not previously been approved by the government, and from refuting the calumnies of the Press against Catholicism. It is not necessary for us to recur to the authority of Catholic writers, like Lescœur, to prove how odious this violence was; we may be satisfied with a mere glance at the immense collection of laws and governmental measures concerning the Catholic Church, from the times of Peter and of Ivan Alexeievitch to 1867 ("Zakonopolozhenija i pravitelstvennyia rasporjazhenija do rimsko-kato litcheskoi cerkvi v Rossii otnosjachtchijasja so vremeni carstvovanija Tzarei Petra i Ioanna Aleksieevitchei, 1669-1867", Vienna, 1868). It is not without reason that a Catholic writer has said that the laws of Nicholas I against Catholicism constitute a Neronian code.

The first years of the reign of Alexander II were not marked by anti-Catholic violence. The Russian Government promised the Holy See that the concordat would be scrupulously observed, and in 1856 the episcopal sees of Russia and Poland were filled. Soon however there was a return to the methods of Nicholas I, notwithstanding the fact that Pius IX wrote to the tsar, imploring liberty for Catholics of both rites in Russia. In another letter, addressed in 1861 to Mgr. Fialkowski, Archbishop of Warsaw, Pius IX referred to the continual efforts of the Holy See to safeguard the existence of Catholicism in Russia, and to the difficulties that were opposed to all measures of his and of his predecessors in that connection. Encouraged by the words of the pope, the Polish bishops presented a memorandum to the representative of the emperor at Warsaw, asking for the abrogation of the laws that oppressed Catholics and destroyed their liberty. A similar memorandum was presented to the tsar by the Archbishop of Mohileff and the bishops of Russia. Upon the basis of these memoranda, the government accused the Catholic clergy of promoting the spirit of revolution and of plotting revolts against the tsar. Most painful occurrences ensued; the soldiery was not restrained from profaning the churches and the Holy Eucharist, from wounding defenceless women, or from treating Warsaw as a city taken by storm. One hundred and sixty priests, and among them the vicar capitular Bialobrzeski, were taken prisoners, and several of them were exiled to Siberia. Mgr. Deckert, coadjutor of the Archbishop Fialkowski, died of the sufferings that these events caused him. The condition of the Poles were becoming intolerable, and Catholicism suffered proportionately. Amid the general indifference of Europe, one voice, that of Pius IX, was raised, firm and energetic, in favour of an oppressed people and of a persecuted faith. On 12 March, 1863, in his Allocution to the Consistory, and on 22 April, 1863, in a letter to the tsar, Pius IX demanded that justice and equity be no longer violated. The tsar Alexander II wrote to the pope expressing regrets that the Polish clergy should ally itself with the authors of civil disorder and should disturb the public peace.

The Polish revolution of 1863 furnished the government with a pretext for inhumanity towards the Catholic clergy, both regular and secular. There is no doubt that some priests and religious, moved by patriotic ardour, committed the error of taking part in an insurrection which was opposed by the more cultured and reasonable portion of the nation. The Russian Government, however, did not take pains to punish only the guilty, but dealt with all the Catholic clergy alike. In 1863 the Archbishop of Warsaw, Mgr. Felinski, was confined at Yaroslaff, as was his coadjutor Mgr. Rzaewuski at Astrakhan in 1865; while their successors, the canons Szczygielski and Domagolski, were exiled to Siberia in 1867. Mgr. Krasinski, Archbishop of Vilna, was confined at Vyatka. Several priests in 1863 were either hanged or shot, as implicated in the revolt, while others were sent to the interior of Russia, or were deported to Siberia. The Poles and the Catholics in their distress received consolation only from Pius IX, who distinguished between the right of a government to punish an unjust revolt and the right of subjects to profess their Faith freely. In the encyclical "Ubi Urbaniano" of 30 July, 1864, addressed to the bishops of Russia and Poland, he enumerated the grievous evils that the Russian Government had inflicted on Catholicism.

The letters and the protests of the pope however were of little avail. On 8 Nov., 1864 the government suppressed the convents and religious orders of Russian Poland; and a ukase of 16 Nov., 1866 abolished the concordat of 1847. Another ukase, on 22 May, 1867, made the "Roman Catholic College" the intermediary between the Catholic bishops of Russia and the Holy See. Unfortunately some prelates allowed themselves to be led astray by the promises or by the threats of the Russian Government, which sought the ruin of Catholicism in Russia through the establishment of a Polish national church. We may cite Mgr. Staniewski, administrator of the Diocese of Mohileff, Mgr. Constance Lubienski, Bishop of Augustowo, who nobly expiated his mistake, and died in exile at Dünaburg; and Mgr. Sosnowski, administrator of the Diocese of Lublin. A series of curious revelations and documents, concerning the incredible abuses of Russian legislation against Catholicism, is contained in the work "Das polnisch-russische Staatskirchenrecht auf Grund der neuesten Bestimmungen und praktischer Erfahrungen systematisch erzählt von einem Priester", Posen, 1892.

Under Alexander III (1881-94) negotiations between the Holy See and the Russian Government were renewed, and Russia maintained a legation at the Vatican. In 1882 Archbishop Felinski was recalled from exile, and, instead of his See of Warsaw, received the title of Archbishop of Tarsus. The See of Warsaw was given to Mgr. Vincent Theophilus Popiel, who had energetically resisted the efforts of the Russian Government to establish an independent ecclesiastical college for the government of the Catholic Church in Russia. A new concordat was concluded in 1882, but its clauses were nullified by new laws. It should not be forgotten that, during the entire reign of Alexander II, the religious policy of Russia was inspired by Konstantin Pobiedonostseff, Procurator General of the Holy Synod, who, for political rather than religious motives, was a fierce adversary of Catholicism. The Catholic clergy continued to endure the severest oppression, abandoned to the caprices of the police, greatly reduced in numbers, and trammelled by a thousand obstacles in the exercise of its apostolic ministry. This condition of things was prolonged into the reign of Nicholas II, during which Pobiedonostseff exercised his dictatorship until 1905.

After the war with Japan, however, and in consequence of internal political troubles, Nicholas II promulgated the constitution in 1905, and published the edict of religious toleration. Two years of liberty were sufficient to reveal the great vitality of Catholicism in Russia, for the number of conversions to the Catholic faith, in so short a lapse of time, amounted to 500,000, including over 300,000 Uniate Catholics whom the Russian Government had compelled to declare themselves Orthodox; 100,000 of these, known in Russian as Obstinates (uporstvujushshie) had not received the sacraments for more than thirty years, during which time they frequented no church, in order not to be reckoned among the Orthodox. The Catholic clergy developed the greatest activity in social and educational work, in the Press, and in the awakening of Christian piety; and the reactionary party of the Orthodox Church, centred in the Synod, cried out against the danger, and called for new laws to protect Orthodoxy against the assaults of militant Catholicism. These protests and lamentations were heard; the laws relating to liberty of conscience were submitted to revision, abolished, or modified; the government refused to recognize as legitimate the conversions to Catholicism of the former Uniate Catholics; the priests who baptized children of mixed marriages were punished with fines and imprisonment; the parochial schools were closed; the confraternities and the Catholic social organizations were dissolved, and the former severity against the Catholic Press was resumed. The government directed its action especially against the re-establishment of the United Church in Russia, and in 1911 closed two Russo-Catholic chapels that had been erected at St. Petersburg and Moscow. Denunciations against a zealous Jesuit, Father Werczynski, who had established himself at Moscow in 1903, and had converted a thousand Russians to Catholicism, furnished the government with pretexts for renewed severity: Father Werczynski was exiled; the suffragan Bishop of Mohileff, Mgr. Denisewicz, was deposed (1911) without the previous consent of the Holy See, and was deprived of his stipend; and another most zealous prelate, Baron von. Ropp, Bishop of Vilna, was obliged to resign his see and to retire to the Government of Perm.

Nevertheless Catholicism continues to exercise a great influence upon the cultured classes of Russia, a fact due in great measure to Vladimir Soloveff, the greatest of Russian philosophers, who has rightly been called the Russian Newman; and from these classes there have always been conversions that have brought to the fold of the Catholic Church noble and exalted souls, as, for example, Princess Narishkin, Princess Bariatinski, Princess Volkonski, Countess Nesselrode, Miss Ushakova, Prince Gagarin, Prince Galitzin, Count Shuvaloff, and many others. Khomiakoff, the legislator and apostle of Slavophilism, said that if liberty of conscience were established in Russia the upper and the cultured classes would embrace Catholicism, which seems to be justified by the facts.

Statistics of the Catholic dioceses of Russia

The basis for the diocesan and clerical statistics of Russia is furnished by the very useful "Elenchi omnium Ecclesiarum et universi cleri" which is published every year by the various dioceses as an appendix to the "Directorium divini officii". These "Elenchi" are useful not only for their statistics but also for their historical data, because they sometimes contain documents and historical notes concerning the dioceses. From the ecclesiastical point of view, the Catholic dioceses of Russia are divided into two classes: the dioceses of the Kingdom of Poland, and those of Russia.

The Kingdom of Poland, or Russian Poland, has seven sees:

In Russia there are:

These are all treated under separate heads. In 1866 the Russian Government suppressed the Diocese of Podlachia in Poland, and Minsk and Kamenetz in Russia; the Holy See, however, did not sanction these arbitrary acts, and therefore the three dioceses in question exist canonically, although they have no bishops, and have been incorporated into other dioceses. There are in the Russian Empire more than 13,000,000 Catholics of whom more than 5,000,000 are in Russia; there are approximately 2900 parishes, 3300 churches, 2000 chapels, and 4600 priests. According to the illustrative tables of Father Urban, S.J., there may be reckoned an average of more than 3000 Catholics for each priest. In some dioceses, as for example in Podlachia, there is 1 priest for each 4800 Catholics; and in the Diocese of Minsk 1 priest for each 4670 Catholics. The division into parishes is irregular, and some of the parishes have a very large population; that of Holy Cross at Lodz has a population of 142,000 Catholics with only 10 priests; and Praga, near Warsaw, has 82,000 Catholics with only 4 priests. In Siberia the parishes have an enormous extent. According to the convention between the Holy See and the Government, the diocesan bishops should have 22 auxiliaries: 3 for the metropolitanate of Mohileff; 3 for the Diocese of Kovno; 3 for Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz; 3 for Vilna; 2 for Tiraspol; 2 for Warsaw; and 1 each for Kielce, Lublin, Wladislaw, Sandomir, Plock, and Sejny and Augustowo. Unfortunately however the convention is not observed by the Russian Government: in 1911 there were only four suffragan bishops; and it should be added that the dioceses remain vacant for long periods. The Diocese of Vilna has been vacant since 1905. There follows consequently great disorganization and many abuses in the ecclesiastical administration, which cannot be remedied for lack of competent authority.

Each diocese has its cathedral and its collegiate chapters. A ukase of 1865 fixed 12 as the number of canons of a cathedral. Each diocese has also its consistory; and to the twelve diocesan consistories, should be added the consistories of Kalish, Piotrkow, and Pultusk. The consistories are composed of "Officers", "vice-officers", assessors, visitors of monasteries, and also lay members in the Russian dioceses. The efforts of the Russian Government to make autonomous the consistories of the various dioceses and the ecclesiastical college at St. Petersburg have failed, for the Catholic hierarchy in Russia, taught by experience, remains faithful to the Roman See, and accepts no innovations contrary to Catholic canon law.

Religious orders

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there were in Russian Poland many monasteries, and several thousand religious of the various orders. Among the latter the Jesuits and the Piarists (founded by St. Joseph Calasanctius) distinguished themselves by their services to education; but the iniquitous laws of Catharine II and Nicholas I, and the measures adopted by the Russian Government in 1864 after the Polish insurrection, almost extirpated Western monachism from Russia. In 1864 it was provided that the monasteries of Russia should be divided into two classes, those approved kind recognized by the state, and those not approved or recognized. The monasteries of the first of these two classes were allowed to have novices, and to be inhabited each by 14 religious; those of the second class were allowed to remain in existence until the number of religious in each should be reduced to 7, when the monastery was to be suppressed. The opening of the novitiates of the recognized monasteries was deferred to the time when the non-approved monasteries should have ceased to exist. The number of the Paulist monks of the monastery of Czenstochowa was fixed at twenty-four. Even these restrictive laws however, were not observed. Only three or four of the recognized monasteries were allowed to receive novices, and the members of religious orders were prohibited from having relations with their religious superiors outside of Russia. It is therefore not astonishing that the religious orders should have nearly disappeared from that country. The Sisters of Charity alone have been able to develop their organization; and, as elsewhere, they have won the admiration of all, even of the Orthodox.

The greater part of the religious are in Russian Poland. The Archdiocese of Warsaw has a Capuchin monastery at Nowe Miasto, with 15 religious, and the convents of the Visitation (14 religious), the Perpetual Adoration (13 religious), and the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (36 religious). The Sisters of Charity, 382 in number, have under their charge there 34 hospitals or philanthropic institutions. In 1905 the Redemptorists, five in number, had established themselves at Warsaw; but the Russian Government expelled them in 1910. There are remnants of the old orders that were suppressed in 1864, but their number is reduced from year to year.

The Diocese of Wladislaw has the celebrated monastery of Czenstochowa, belonging to a congregation of cenobites called Paulists (from St. Paul I the hermit). There are about forty religious, priests and laymen, in the convent. A grievous crime that was committed in the convent in 1909 led the diocesan authorities to adopt the severest measures for the re-establishment of religious discipline there. In the same diocese there are two convents of Friars Minor, at Kolo and at Wladislaw, with 10 religious; one convent of Dominican Tertiaries, at Przyrów, with 12 religious; and one convent of Franciscan Tertiaries, with 13 religious, at Wielun. There are 49 Sisters of Charity, who have charge of 13 philanthropic establishments. In the Diocese of Plock there are: a convent of Carmelites, at Obory, with 6 religious; a monastery of Felician Sisters, at Przasnysz, with 9 religious; and 5 charitable institutions, in the care of the Sisters of Charity.

In the Diocese of Sejny, besides a Benedictine monastery, with 10 religious, there are two hospitals and one asylum, under the care of 13 Sisters of Charity.

In the Diocese of Sandomir there is a Franciscan convent for women, with 13 religious; and 6 charitable institutions, under the care of 29 Sisters of Charity.

The Diocese of Kielce has 35 Sisters of Charity, and that of Lublin 44, who are in charge of 8 charitable establishments.

In the Archdiocese of Mohileff there are no convents, properly so called. At St. Petersburg and Moscow there live some Dominicans of different nationalities, and it is by priests of that order that the French parishes of those two cities are served. In 1907 eight Franciscan Sisters, Missionaries of Mary, established themselves at St. Petersburg with the consent of the government. They direct a house of work. There are also in the archdiocese a few Sisters of French and of Polish congregations.

The Diocese of Vilna has a Benedictine monastery at Vilna, with 6 religious, and a Franciscan monastery, with 3 religious, at Slonim. In the Diocese of Kovno there is: a Franciscan monastery, with 3 religious, at Kretinga; one Benedictine monastery at Kovno, with 9 religious; and a convent of Sisters of St. Catharine, with 9 religious, at Kroki. At Zaslaff, in the Diocese of Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz, the Franciscans have a monastery with 4 resident religious; and there are about 10 religious of various other orders scattered throughout the diocese. There are no religious in the Diocese of Tiraspol.

In all, therefore, of the 13,000,000 Catholics in Russia, 150 men and 550 women are religious, and of the women 450 are Sisters of Charity. The Catholic Church in Russia, therefore, is deprived of an important part of its militia, and there is small hope that religious life will flourish in that country. The small monasteries that remain depend on the bishops, and have, instead of provincials, visitors who are chosen from among the secular clergy. The several attempts of the Polish religious of Galicia (Augustinians, Franciscans, Bernardists, Piarists, Redemptorists) and others to establish themselves in Russia since 1905 have been futile.

Moral and intellectual life of the Catholic clergy in Russia

From the moral and intellectual points of view, in Russia, as in all Orthodox countries, the Catholic clergy is very superior to that of other denominations, according to the confession even of the Orthodox writers themselves. Any shortcomings which may occur in the lives of the Catholic clergy arise out of circumstances beyond the control of the ecclesiastical authority. The Holy See cannot exercise in Russia a more efficacious vigilance than it exercises in other countries; but even if it were in a position to do so, it would find an obstacle to its efforts in the laws of the country. On the other hand, the clergy is too scattered, its work too great, and the civil offices imposed upon it by the bureaucracy too arduous. Nevertheless, in the difficult circumstances in which it is placed, its zeal has succeeded in working marvels, in holding its fold firmly bound to the Faith, and in conciliating the esteem of the Orthodox and the affection of Catholics. The generosity of the Catholics, especially Poles and Lithuanians, is considerable, and therefore the financial circumstances of the Catholic clergy are of the best, notwithstanding the fact that the stipends which it receives from the Russian Government are exceedingly small: parish priests receive from 230 to 600 roubles a year, and canons have the same stipend. The people are very pious, and their pilgrimages to the sanctuaries are frequent. At the Feast of the Assumption, the sanctuary of Czenstochowa is visited at times by as many as 1,000,000 pilgrims. The sanctuary of Our Lady of Ostrabrama, at Vilna, is also a centre of many pilgrimages, and the streets that lead to it are always crowded with people on their knees.

The Catholic clergy in Russia is unable to contribute efficiently to the propagation of the Faith, for its zeal is trammelled by very severe laws. In 1908-1911 many priests were fined, imprisoned, and even exiled for having baptized children of mixed marriages; nevertheless the clergy contributes in some measure to the work of the union. There had been hopes of restoring the Uniate Church in Russia through the agency of three or four Russian priests who were converted to Catholicism; and two chapels of the Slav Rite sprang up, at St. Petersburg and Moscow. In 1911, however, the Russian Government closed the two chapels, and forbade the exercise of their ministry by the converted priests, one of whom returned to the schism.

The Catholic clergy, and Catholics in general, abstain from taking part in polities; but they do a great deal for the moral and intellectual development of their fellow-countrymen. The Poles are the staunchest supporters of Catholicism and Polish nationalism in Russia. The Lithuanian clergy has taken a very active part in the awakening of Lithuanian nationalism, the restoration of the Lithuanian language to the churches of Lithuania, and the development of Lithuanian literature. From these points of view, therefore, both the Polish and Lithuanian clergy have rendered great service to their respective nationalities. It is to be regretted, however, that there should frequently arise at Vilna, between the Polish and the Lithuanian clergy, disputes that are at variance with Catholic interests. The intellectual development of the clergy, as yet, is not all that might be desired. The seminaries, in all that concerns the admission of young men, are at the mercy of the government, which, possibly, prevents the more desirable youths from entering those establishments. For the rest, the course of studies in those seminaries is not very complete. At present, however, an intellectual and moral reform in these establishments is being sought: a considerable number of Catholic priests go to foreign countries to complete their studies in Catholic universities, and upon their return to Russia teach in the seminaries. The Catholic Press, also, which had been kept at a low standard by the Russian censorship, has improved greatly of recent times. In 1909 the seminary of Wladislaw began the publication of the "Duchowni Kaplan", a monthly periodical that is on a level with the most learned Catholic publications of Europe. Other Catholic periodicals are published at Warsaw, Vilna, Sandomir, etc., and seek to neutralize the anti-Catholic propaganda, and the propaganda of atheism, which latter has its centre at Warsaw, where it publishes its organ the "Mysl Nepolegla" (Independent Thought).

The chief centre of Catholic study in Russia is the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburg, established in 1833, in place of the seminary of Vilna, which was considered the university of the Catholic clergy in Russia. The academy has a rector, an inspector, a spiritual director, 15 professors, and a librarian. The dioceses send to this establishment their best students, who after a course of four years receive the Degree of Master of Theology. It has 60 students. Among its professors mention should be made of Mikhail Godlewski, author of important publications on the history of Catholicism in Russia; and Stanislaus Trzeciak, the author of an important work on the literature and religion of the Jews at the time of Christ ("Literatura i religija u zydów za czasów Chrystusa Pana", Warsaw, 1911).

The sect of the Mariavites is treated in the article POLAND.

The Orthodox Church of Russia

Russian writers ordinarily divide the history of their national church into five periods. The first, from 989 to 1237, was the period of the diffusion of Christianity in Russia. Christianity was spread slowly, but the want of culture among the people caused pagan superstitions to be maintained under the external appearances of Christian rites. The conditions of the lower clergy, both as to culture and to apostolic spirit, were wretched. Monastic life began to flourish in Russia, when the monk Anton, coming from Mount Athos in 1051, established himself in a grotto near Kieff, and collecting about him various followers, among them the famous Blessed Theodosius Petcherski, laid the foundation of the great monastery called Kievo-Petcherskaja. This monastery became a focus of culture in the development of Russia, and is rightly considered a national monument of that country. Monasticism was so generally spread in the twelfth century that in the city of Kieff alone there were seventeen monasteries.

During this first period the Russian Church was totally dependent upon the Church of Constantinople, and was governed by the Metropolitans of Kieff, the list of which opens with Leo (dead in 1004) and closes with the Metropolitan Josef in 1237. According to Golubinski this first list contains twenty-four names. Some of them, Mikhail, Ilarion, Ivan II, Ephraim, and Konstantin were placed upon the calendar of the saints. One of the most famous saints of this first epoch was St. Cyril of Turoff.

The second period, from 1237, in which year begin the Mongolian invasions and the progressive development of the power of northern Russia extends to 1461, when Orthodox Russia was divided into two metropolitanates. During this period, Russia was governed by the Metropolitans of all Russia, the list of whom begins with Cyril III (1242-49), and closes with St. Gona (1448-61). Among these metropolitans, St. Pioter (1308-26), St. Alexei (1354-78), and St. Gona (1448-61) were raised to the honours of the altar of the Russian Church. The latter fought against the Tatars; while several Russian princes suffered martyrdom for their Faith and were canonized. Some few missionaries attempted to spread Christianity among the Tatars. In 1329 two Russian monks, Sergei and Germanus, founded the famous monastery of Balaam, on an islet of Lake Ladoga. In the second half of the fourteenth century St. Stephen, Bishop of Perm (died 1396), preached Christianity to the Zyriani. The efforts of the Russians, however, to win Lithuania over to the schism were not crowned with success. During this period, there were eighteen eparchies in Russia. The Russian bishops gradually leaned towards Moscow, which had aspirations to spiritual supremacy. The moral and intellectual conditions of the clergy were very low. Towards the latter end of the fourteenth century, there arose the heresy of the Strigolniki, who rejected the hierarchy. Monasticism attained its highest development, there appearing 180 new monasteries. St. Sergei Radonejski (dead in 1392), a saint whom popular legends represent as endowed with supernatural powers, became the legislator of the new monasticism. At Sergievo, 40 miles from Moscow, he founded the celebrated monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, a great religious and national monument of Russia. The monasteries at this epoch contained possibly 300 religious.

The third period is from 1461 to 1589, when the Russian Church was divided into the two metropolitanates of Moscow and Kieff. The former was bounded by the frontiers of Great Russia, and was strictly Russian and Orthodox. That of Kieff attempted to assimilate the culture of the West, and developed great literary activity. In the metropolis of Moscow, Tihon of Vyatka (dead in 1612) worked for the conversion of the Voguli and of the Ostiaki of the Government of Perm. The monks of the monastery of Solovka evangelized the Lopari, in which efforts the Blessed Theodoretus (dead in 1577) and the Blessed Tihon Petchengski (1495-1583) distinguished themselves. In the work of the conversion to Christianity of the Tatars of Kazan, the higumeno George (Gurij) Rugotin became famous. He died 4 Dec., 1563, and was canonized by the Russian Church; so also was the archimandrite Barsonofius (dead in 1576, and Germanus (died 1567). Other Russian monks devoted their energies to the conversion of the pagans of Astrakhan and of the Caucasus.

The Russian Church became more and more separated from the Greek Church, and towards the end of the fifteenth century refused to receive Greek metropolitans and bishops. Among the metropolitans of this time, Macarius (1542-63), and the energetic Philippus II, who was slain by order of Ivan the Terrible in 1473, were distinguished by the extent of their learning. In the Metropolitanate of Moscow there were ten eparchates. The clergy was very numerous, and many of its members, unable to subsist in the villages, lived a vagabond life at Moscow, to the detriment of discipline. With a view to reforming the clergy there was convened at Moscow in 1551 the famous Council of the Hundred Chapters (Stoglav). Monasticism spread more and more. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth century there appeared three hundred new monasteries, which accumulated enormous wealth. The Blessed Nil Sorski (1433-1508) made himself the champion of a reform among the monks, which implied on their part the renunciation of all real property and seclusion in the monasteries. His doctrines found numerous adversaries, among whom was the Blessed Josef of Volock (1440-1515). Many monks and ascetics of this time were venerated as saints. Among the more famous of these, were Alexander Svirski (dead in 1533) and Daniel of Pereiaslaff (died 1540). The want of religious instruction favoured superstition and the germination of heresies. In the fifteenth century there broke out, at Novgorod and its surroundings, the heresy of the Judaizers (zhidovstvujushshie), against which the Archbishop Gennadius (a saint who died in 1505) and the Blessed Josef of Volock struggled with much energy. In the sixteenth century Matwei Baksin and Theodosius Kosoi taught rationalist doctrines, abjuring the sacraments and ecclesiastical government, which evoked refutations and anathemas from Maxim the Greek, and from the monk Zinovii Otenski. The Protestants established themselves at Moscow.

There were fifteen metropolitans of Kieff, from Gregor the Bulgarian (1458-73), who, according to Golubinski, after embracing the union, returned to the Orthodox Church, to Onisiphorus Dievotchak (1579-89), who was succeeded by Mikhail Ragosa — the latter having embraced the Union. The Orthodox of the metropolitanate, after the Union of Brest, fanatically opposed the progress of the Unionists. Russian writers mention with praise, among these champions of Orthodoxy against the Union, Prince Andrei Kurbski and Prince Konstantin of Ostrog. The followers of Orthodoxy also established confraternities for the printing and dissemination of polemical works, and to oppose Catholic influence through the schools. For want of bishops and priests of their own, members of the Orthodox Church passed over to the Union. In 1620, however, Theophanus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, consecrated Job Borecki Metropolitan of Kieff, and six members of the Orthodox Church as bishops respectively of Polotsk, Vladimir, Lutzk, Przemysl, Chelm, and Pinsk; and thus the Orthodox hierarchy was reestablished. In the domain of theology the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were prolific of works, written by Orthodox theologians, to combat the arguments of the Catholics and Uniates. The most salient personality of the Orthodox hierarchy of Kieff during this period was the Metropolitan Peter Moghila (died 1646).

The fourth period of the Russian Church is that of the Patriarchate of Moscow (1589-1700). The Patriarchate of Moscow was created in 1589 by Jeremias II, Patriarch of Constantinople. The first patriarch was Job (1589-1605); he was succeeded by Ignatei (1605-06), Hermogenes (1606-11), Filarete Romanoff (1619-33), Joshaphat (1634-40), Josef (1642-52), Nikon (1652-66), Joshaphat (1667-72), Pitirim (1672-73), Joachim Saveloff (1674-90), and Adrian (1690-1700). Among the most famous of these mention should be made of Filarete and Joachim, bitter enemies of Catholicism; and of Nikon, who with uncurbed energy upheld the rights of his Church against the usurpations of the civil power, on which account he was deposed in 1666. The patriarchs formed at Moscow a court, which, especially under Filarete Romanoff, was a rival of that of the tsars, both as to wealth and authority, and which for these reasons was suppressed by the tsars. The patriarchs exercised superintendence over the metropolitans and over the bishops, the number of whom was increased and diminished by turns. After the establishment of the patriarchate, Novgorod, Kazan, Rostoff, and Kruticki became metropolitanates, and Suzdal, Ryazan, Tver, Vologda, and Smolensk were made archiepiscopal sees. The number of dioceses was fixed at eight. In 1620 Siberia was given an episcopal see at Tobolsk. In 1682 the Tsar Feodor Alexeievitch proposed the establishment of 12 metropolitanates and 72 dioceses; but a council of bishops reduced the latter number to 34, later to 22, and thereafter to 14. There was a lack of funds for the support of the new dioceses, and at the end of the seventeenth century the patriarchate of Moscow had 13 metropolitanates, 7 archbishoprics, and 2 dioceses.

Meanwhile the tsars, seeing the growth of the influence and power of the Church under the rule of the patriarchs, adopted the policy of diminishing the prerogatives of the clergy. The Tsar Alexis Mikhailovitch published a statute (ulozhenie) which prohibited the further acquisition of property by the clergy. The judicial position of the clergy received another blow by the promulgation of the so-called monastyrskij prikaz (monasterial ordinance). The clergy received this diminutio capitis with evident displeasure; and when Nikon, Metropolitan of Novgorod, was raised to the patriarchal dignity in 1652, protests were redoubled, and the conflict between the patriarch and the tsar became acute. The bishops, who were partisans of the tsar, had the support of the Greek hierarchy. The Council of Moscow, to please the tsar, deposed the patriarch, who died after a long captivity, at Bielo-ozero, in 1681. With the death of Nikon the Russian Church was yoked to the chariot of the State. Peter the Great found that the patriarchate was useless, and in fact an obstacle in the way of the realization of his purposes; and accordingly, at the death of Adrian in 1700, he suppressed it. The Patriarchate of Moscow had succeeded in unifying the Orthodox Church of Russia. After the convention of 1686 between Russia and Poland, which made the tsars of Moscow masters of Kieff and Little Russia, the Patriarch Joachim named Gedeon Tchetvertinski metropolitan of Kieff, and in 1687 Dionysius, Patriarch of Constantinople, recognized the dependency of the Metropolitanate of Kieff upon the Patriarchate of Moscow.

In the seventeenth century under the Patriarch Nikon a great schism broke out in the Orthodox Church, called the Schism of the Old Believers. The liturgical books in use in the Russian Church were replete with errors. Their correction was an urgent necessity, and had been undertaken in the sixteenth century. The fanatics opposed this "corruption" of the sacred texts, and Maxim the Greek, who had worked upon it, paid for his participation in the work with a long imprisonment. Under Nikon in 1654 a council held at Moscow recognized the necessity of the reform in question. Accordingly the liturgical books were corrected, but many Russians, influenced by the monks, refused to accept the corrected versions. It began to be rumoured that Antichrist, personified by the pope, had in view the destruction of the Orthodox Russian Church, through the Latin Catholics of western Russia. But a council held at Moscow in 1666 approved the reform of Nikon, and pronounced its anathema against those who had not accepted his decisions. Anathemas, were however, like the severity of the government, without effect against these deserters from the official Church. The monks who were averse to the reform withdrew to solitary places, and founded clandestine monasteries, among which those of Vyg, Starodub, and Vyatka became famous. The more violent schismatics were burnt alive or decapitated. But persecutions invigorated the schism, called in Russian raskio, whence the name of its adherents, Raskolniki.

The fifth, called the synodal, period begins with 1700, and extends to the present time. At the death of Adrian (1700), Stepan Tavorski, Metropolitan of Ryazan, and a learned theologian, was appointed patriarchal vicar, and charged to reform the entire constitution of the Russian Church. Tavorski found an excellent co-operator in Theophanus Prokopovitch, who was Bishop of Pskof in 1718, and who, although educated at Lemberg, Cracow, and Rome, and according to some, a convert to Catholicism, nourished a bitter hatred for Catholics. Peter the Great gave to Prokopovitch the task of preparing the "Ecclesiastical Regulations" which became the Magna Carta of the Russian Church. This code was finished in 1720. It is divided into three parts, concerning respectively the functions of the synod, the matters put under its jurisdiction, and the duties of its members. The synod was solemnly opened on 14 Feb., 1721. By the "Ecclesiastical Regulations", the tsar is the supreme judge of the ecclesiastical college. His representative in that capacity was a layman, who in a document of 1722 is called the eye of the tsar. This functionary, bearing the title of Ober-Prokuror, was to be chosen preferably from the military class.

The synod in the early period of its existence had ten members, besides the president, and maintained its ecclesiastical character. After the death of Peter the Great, however, that ecclesiastical character was lost by degrees, and the synod became a vast political bureaucracy. The bishops were at the mercy of the procurators-general, who at times, as in the case of Prince Sharkhovski, regarded the synod as a political institution, and sometimes maltreated the prelates who formed that body. There were procurators-general who made public profession of atheism, as Tchebysheff (1768-74), or of rationalism, as Prince A. Golycin (1803). The Russian Church suffered humiliation under the lay rule of the synod (see the important work of Blagovidoff, an ex-professor of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kazan, on "The Procurators of the Holy Synod"). In 1881 there was called to the government of the synod Konstantin Pobiedonostseff, a man of great culture but of reactionary ideas, who wished to unite all the religions professed in Russia in the Orthodox Church. The epoch of Pobiedonostseff was one of complete thraldom for the Russian Church. His dictatorship however came to an end in 1905, when the edict of toleration was promulgated. The Liberal Russian clergy attacked the synod and the anti-canonical constitution of the Russian Church in the Press, and demanded the reestablishment of the patriarchate. The Government proposed the convocation of a great national synod, to return its liberties to the Church of Russia and to give it a new constitution, but this purpose was frustrated by the friction between the "white" (secular) and the "black" (regular) clergy, by the triumph of the revolutionary parties, and by the outbreak of the revolution. The synod continued to exercise its deleterious authority under various procurators: Prince Obolenski, Izvolski, Lukianoff (a mental specialist), and finally, in 1911, Carolus Viadimirovitch Sabler, a former associate of Pobiedonostseff, but a man of broader and more liberal ideas.

Other changes were made in the eparchies. When the synod was established, there were 18 eparchies and 2 vicariates in Russia; in 1764, the number of the former had increased to 29, and to 36 at the beginning of the nineteenth century; which latter number was increased under Nicholas I, and became 65 in our day. The eparchies are ruled by metropolitans (St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kieff), archbishops, and bishops. According to the most recent statistics, there were 133 Russian bishops, including the bishop-vicars of the eparchies, and the bishops without a charge. In regard to the moral character of the Russian episcopate, and concerning the various institutions of the Russian dioceses, see the present writer's work "La Chiesa russa", pp. 105-160. The Russian clergy, which is divided into two castes, the "white" clergy, or seculars, and the "black" clergy, or regulars, has not acquired, among the Russians, the moral prestige that the Catholic clergy has acquired in Catholic countries. According to the latest statistics, there are in the "white" clergy 45,000 priests, 2400 archpriests, 15,000 deacons, and 44,000 singers, while there are 60,000 churches and chapels in the country. This clergy exercises its ministry over more than 90 millions of Orthodox faithful; but it is rendered incapable of accomplishing its mission by poverty, want of education, the lack of sound vocations, the oppression of the Government, contempt and social isolation, family cares, and not infrequently by drink. Only in the cities are there to be found priests of culture and in comfortable circumstances; those who work in the rural parishes are deserving of pity and compassion.

In the eighteenth century, the "black" clergy suffered vicissitudes that greatly reduced the number of monasteries and monks. Peter the Great especially and Anna Ivanovna treated the monks with the greatest severity. Nevertheless the "black" clergy preserved the moral and economic superiority in Russia; bishops, rectors, and inspectors of academies and seminaries are taken from the ranks of the "black" clergy, and the monasteries still possess immense riches. According to the most recent statistics there are 298 monasteries that are recognized and subsidized by the Government, while there are 154 not subsidized (zastatnij). There were 9317 monks and 8266 novices. There were 400 religious houses of women, inhabited by 12,652 nuns and 40,275 novices. Many of these religious houses are of the Russian Sisters of Charity, who maintain 184 hospitals, and 148 asylums. The life of the regular clergy, except in a few monasteries of strict observance, is very lax.

The Orthodox clergy receives its education in the ecclesiastical schools, preparatory for the seminaries (dukhovnyja utchilishsha) of which there are 185, with 1302 instructors, and which are maintained at an expense to the state of 6,153,353 roubles yearly; in the ecclesiastical seminaries, of which there are 57, with 866 instructors and 20,500 students; and also in the ecclesiastical academies of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kieff, and Kazan, in which there are 120 instructors and 862 students; these academies possess very valuable libraries, and have professors of great scientific merit. The seminaries both morally or intellectually are in a wretched condition; from these seminaries the moral and intellectual shortcomings of the Russian clergy are derived, their students, as a rule, entering the priesthood without the least vocation. In 1906-08 these institutions became hotbeds of revolutionists, and even of anarchists. The ecclesiastical sciences are cultivated in the academies, which publish periodicals of great merit as the "Khristianskoe Tchtenie" (Christian Reading) at St. Petersburg; the "Bogoslovski Viestnik" (Theological Messenger) at Sergievsk Posad; the "Trudy" (Works) of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kieff, and the "Pravoslavnyi Sobesiednik" at Kazan. Other important periodicals are the "Strannik" (St. Petersburg Traveller), the "Tcherkovnij Viestnik" (Ecclesiastical Messenger), the "Cerkovnija Viedomosti" (Ecclesiastical News), the organ of the synod at St. Petersburg; "Dushepoleznoe Tchtenie" (Edifying Reading), at Moscow, and the "Khristianin" (The Christian), at Sergievsk Posad. Among the most famous professors of the ecclesiastical academies of the present day, mention should be made of the great exegete Nikolai Glubokovski, the canonists Zaozerski and Berdnikoff, the historian Znamenski, etc. The most famous of them all, at present, is the archpriest Malinovski. A comprehensive study on the Russian seminaries and academies may be found in the work "La Chiesa russa", pp. 541-679.

The educating influence of the Russian clergy upon the people is very slight. On the other hand the bureaucracy would suppress any effort of the clergy to give to the people a higher sense of its rights. The clergy maintains a great many elementary schools, the number of which was much increased in the time of Pobiedonostseff. These establishments are divided into schools of two classes, and schools of one class; of the former there are 672, with 77,000 students of both sexes; while there are 25,425 one-class schools, with 1,400,000 students of both sexes; and in addition 13,650 schools in which reading is taught, with 436,000 pupils. There are 426 secondary schools, with 22,300 students, the yearly maintenance of which costs a sum of 17,000,000 roubles.

The apostolic work of the Russian clergy has small result. The internal missions are against the Raskolniki, the mystic and the rationalist sects, the Mohammedans, the Catholics, the Lutherans, and the Jews. The missionaries direct their efforts towards the conversion of dissidents to Orthodoxy rather by the assistance of the police and by human means than by a supernatural spirit and by convincing arguments. All efforts, not excluding deportation to Siberia, have failed to secure the conversion of the Raskolniki, who since 1905 have enjoyed a certain liberty, and at the present time maintain a great propaganda. Their number is estimated at 15,000,000. Among Catholics and Lutherans the Russian missions are without effect; in fact since 1905 many of the Orthodox have embraced Catholicism or Lutheranism. For three centuries Russian missionaries have worked for the conversion of the Mohammedan Tatars; but the trivial nature of the propaganda among that people was shown in 1905, when 500,000 Christian Tatars returned to the faith of Islam.

The foreign missions of Russia are in North and South America, Japan, Corea, and Persia. In North America the efforts of the Orthodox missionaries are directed to the conversion of the Uniate Ruthenians who emigrate to that continent. In other countries their efforts are almost without result, with the exception of Japan, where Ivan Kasatkin, who is now an archbishop, and who went to those islands in 1860, succeeded in establishing a Japanese branch of the Orthodox Church, Which numbers about 30,000 adherents and about 40 native priests (cf. "La Chiesa russa", pp. 397-539).

The Church of Russia is the support and strength of Orthodoxy, which, counting Russians, Greeks, and Rumanians, has more than 110 millions of adherents. The conversion of Russia to Catholicism, therefore, would end the Eastern Schism. But the hour of a reconciliation between the East and the West is yet far distant, however much desired by Catholics and also by Russians, such as Vladimir Soloveff. There is no doubt that among the cultured classes of Russia there are to be found persons who desire this union, and who readily recognize the defects of their national Church; but there is no movement towards union with Catholicism. As a rule, the cultured classes of Russia are contaminated with the poison of infidelity; while the lower classes are slaves of superstition or ignorance, and most attached to the formalities of their rite. They are the easy prey of the rationalist or mystic Russian sects. Possibly Russia would have been Catholic if, after the Union of Brest, politics and human passions had not rendered the condition of the Uniates most unhappy, and placed obstacles in the way of the development of the Ruthenian clergy. But it is useless to lament the past; and every effort should be made that the latent religious forces of Russia may some day find their full development in union with Catholicism under a single shepherd.

Sources

THE RELIGION OF RUSSIA: Catholicism; Orthodox Church; Protestantism:--

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CHYTRÆUS, De Russorum religione (Leipzig, 1586); PRYTZ, Utrum Moscovitæ sint christiani (Stockholm, 1620); SCHWABE, De religione ritibusque ecclesiasticis moscovitarum (Jena, 1665); VON OPPENBUSCH, Religio Moscovitarum (Strasburg, 1667); WAHRMUND, La religion ancienne et moderne des Moscovites (Cologne, 1698); KROOK, Exercitatio historico-theologica de statu Ecclesiæ et religionis moscoviticæ (Leipzig, 1722); FENERLIN, Dissertatio historica de religione Ruthenorum hadierna (Göttingen, 1745); BELLERMANN, Kurzer Abriss der russischen. Kirche (Erfurt, 1788); STRAHL, Zustand der griechisch-russischen, Kirche in ältester und neuester Zeit (Tübingen, 1823); IDEM, Geschichte der Gründung und Ausbreitung der christlichen Lehre unter den Völkern, des ganzen russischen Reiches (Halle, 1827); IDEM, Beyträge zur russischen Kirchengesch (Halle, 1827); IDEM, Geschichte der russischen Kirche (Halle, 1830); MURAVEFF, Istorija rossiiskoi cerkvi (History of the Russian Church) (St. Petersburg, 1845); Ger. tr. (Karlsruhe, 1857); PHILARÈTE, Istorija russkoi cerkvi (Tchernigoff, 1862); Ger. tr. (Frankfort, 1872); BOISSARD, L'Église de Russie (2 vols., Paris, 1867); HEARD, The Russian Church (London, 1887); FRANK, Russisches Christentum (Paderborn, 1889); VANNUTELLI, Studio religioso sopra la Russia (2 vols., Rome, 1892); RUNKEVITCH, Istorija russkoi cerkvi pod upravlemiem sv. synoda (History of the Russian Church under the Government of the Holy Synod) (St. Petersburg, 1900); DENISOFF, Pravoslavnye monastyri rossiiskoi imperii (The Orthodox Monasteries of the Russian Empire) (Moscow, 1908). The most complete history of the Russian Church is that of the Metropolitan MACARIUS, Istorija russkoi cerkvi (12 vols., St. Petersburg, 1883-1903). A complete bibliography of the Orthodox Russian Church is to be found in PALMIERI, La Chiesa russa (Florence, 1908), and IDEM, Theologia dogmatica orthodoxa, I (Florence, 1911).

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BÜSCHING, Geschichte der evangelisch-lutherischen Gemeinen im russischen Reich (2 vols., Altona, 1766); GROTS, Beytrag zur Geschichte der evang.-lutherischen Kirchen in Russland (1772); JUNGBLUT, Die Gründung der evangelisch-luterischen Kirchen in Russland (St. Petersburg, 1855); FROMMANN, Die evangelische Kirche im Russland (Berlin, 1868); HUNNIUS, Die evangelisch-lutherische Kirche Russlands (Leipzig, 1877); DALTON, Beyträge zur Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche in Russland (Gotha, 1887, 1889, 1905); CVIETAEFF, Protestanty i protestantsvo v Rossii (Moscow, 1890); DALTON, Zur Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche in Russland (Leipzig, 1903); EGGERS, Die evangelisch-lutherischen Gemeinden. in Russland (St. Petersburg, 1909); GERNET, Geschichte der allerhöchst bestätigten Unterstützungskasse für evangelisch-lutherische Gemeinden in Russland (St. Petersburg, 1909).

About this page

APA citation. Palmieri, A. (1912). The Religion of Russia. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13253a.htm

MLA citation. Palmieri, Aurelio. "The Religion of Russia." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13253a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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